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"Dell broadband offer". Non cable phone line required. Price correct at time of print. ^Saving is difference between price of featured systems when sold as a package versus current standard online sales prices for the basic systems with the promotional components 
upgraded individually Celeron, Celeron Inside, Centrino, Centrino Logo, Core Inside, Intel, Intel Logo, Intel Core, Intel Inside, Intel Inside Logo, Intel Viiv, Pentium, Pentium Inside, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or 
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^^ ^ June 2008 ^ 

Contents 



^ For daily news updates, 
^ reviews and downloads 
www.pcw.co.uk 



REGULARS 



7 Editorial 

173 Competition 

174 Contact us & PC W on the web 

175 In the next issue 

176 Flashback 



INTERACTIVE 



20 Letters 

25 Gordon Laing - Inside information 

26 Barry Fox - Straight talking 

29 Guy Kewney - Kewney @ large 



NEWS 



8 

9 

10 

11 

14 

17 

18 

19 



Atoms power pocket mobiles 
Microsoft wins standards war 
Websites paid to install malware 
Bug-free Phenom chips arrive 
WillSPI boost Vista uptake? 
Femtocell packs Wifi router 
Scientists in global warming challenge 
How the BBC helped conquer the world 



GROUP TESTS 



87 Off- road sat navs 

Six top GPS navigators tested 

99 Image-editing software 

Free and low-cost tools to help you 
enhance and improve your photos 

113 Miniature motherboards 

Hybrid micro motherboards are the way 
of the future. We test six boards 



^e,^7 Great software 

Video-editing I ,, „,,„,,„ 

software for KJiDOiikJorLic: 

home movie 

makers, web 

page button 

maker and 

file backup 

software, plus 

much more - i 



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this month's 



COVER 
FEATURES 

38 GET A CRIP 
ON VISTA 

Enjoy no-fuss computing with our 
20 easy free fixes for Vista 

50 SURVIVE SP1 

Insider's guide to Windows Vista 
Service Pack 1 




GROUP TEST 

87 OFF-ROAD 
SAT NAVS 

Explore road and track 
with these new 
dual-purpose GPS 
navigators 



FEATURES 



30 Broadband bottleneck 

Why Britain's broadband is so slow 

38 Get a grip on Vista 

20 easy fixes for Vista annoyances 

46 Flash memory guide 

Inside this ubiquitous storage format 

50 Windows Vista 
Service Pack 1 

Navigate your way round SP1 




Is the next generation of fast 
internet access finally upon us? 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



GROUP TEST 

113 MICRO ATX 
MOTHERBOARDS 

Hybrid micro motherboards - 
the way of the future 




GROUP TEST 

99 IMAGE- 
EDITING 
SOFTWARE 

Six tools to help you 
improve your photos 



REVIEWS 



53 Contents 
Hardware 

54 Cyberpower Gamer Infinity SLI GX2 

55 Shuttle P2 3500G 

57 NEC Versa S970 

Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Si 2636 

Peripherals 

58 Medion Gopal P4425 

AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Box 

61 Chimei CMV 633A 

LG Flatron L197WH S+ 

62 Apple Time Capsule 

Palit Geforce 9600GT 512MB Sonic 

63 Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 

64 Terratec DMX 6Fire USB 

65 Pentax Optio A40 
Ricoh R8 

67 Maplin USB2 to Sata/IDE Adapter 
Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 



67 Autosafe Cubebyte 
3rd Space EPS Vest 



PC Essentials 

A selection of the latest components 
and accessories 

Software 

AVG Internet Security 8 
Serif Webplus X2 
Webroot Parental Controls 



68 



71 
72 
73 

74 Topaz Moment 3.4 

Games 

75 Lost: The Video Game 
Speedball 2 - Tournament 

76 Best Buys 

84 How we test 




Cyberpower 
launches a 
powerful 
gaming PC, 
see page 54 




119 Contents 

120 Smart exchange 

Microsoft's Exchange is not the only 
fish in the mail server sea. Here are 
three small-business options 

Reviews 

122 Sage Instant Accounts 

125 HP Laserjet PI 505n 

126 Hypertec Firestorm 

127 Modus Interactive Powerwise 

129 Nuance PDF Converter Professional 5 



HANDS ON 



133 Contents 

134 Question time 

Why suffer in silence when help is at 
hand? Our experts offer advice 

138 Hardware 

Downgrading to XP might be the best 
way to upgrade a laptop's performance 

140 Performance 

Can Vista handle a memory boost? 

142 Windows 

The easy way to hide files in XP 

144 Linux/Unix 

Ubuntu is certainly popular, but Fedora 
support is increasing by the day 

146 Digital imaging & video 

Handy tips on taking studio-quality 
photos to help sell items on Ebay 

148 Word processing 

Word to the wise: add some 2007 tricks 
to an old favourite - Word 2003 

150 Spreadsheets 

Enhancements to Excel's Status Bar 

152 Sound 

Turn your favourite song into a 
ringtone. It's easy once you know how 

154 Networks 

Inside Vista's first Service Pack 

156 Databases 

Discover how a database engine works 

158 Visual programming 

Convert music files with PowerShell 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



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EDITORIAL 



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kelvyn.taylor@incisivemedia.com 



Broadband crisis point looms 

As complaints about slow speeds become commonplace, the 
broadband infrastructure struggles to keep up with demand 



Broadband in the UK has become one of 
those things that, along with the weather 
and the price of fish, we Brits just love to 
have a good moan about. Whether our 
ISP is slow, unreliable, deaf to our complaints, 
morally or even financially bankrupt, there's 
always something to get off our chests. 

But as we report this month in one of our regular 
looks at the state of Britain's broadband services (see 
page 30), there's no smoke without fire, and it seems 
that there's definitely something smouldering deep 
within our internet infrastructure. 

We're constantly bombarded with promises of 
superfast broadband, with cable operator Virgin 
Media bragging about its 50Mbits/sec pilot and BT 
going one better with lOOMbits/sec trials in a corner 
of Kent. But what these headline-grabbing trials hide 
is that ISPs will soon struggle to cope with demand. 



'What the headline-grabbing trials hide is 
that ISPs will struggle to cope with demand' 



In the good old days, most early adopters were 
happy with their 256Kbits/sec ADSL connections, 
which seemed like greased lightning compared to a 
dial-up modem. As one of those ancient fossils 
myself, I'm still perfectly content to chug along on 
my 1 Mbit/sec service. But as prices plummeted and 
adoption became widespread, users suddenly found 
out what 50:1 contention really means. Whereas 
once they might have been the only user for miles 
around, now everyone's on their segment and 
delivered speeds can fluctuate wildly depending on 
how many people are hogging the connection. 

But the problem goes deeper. With the 
proliferation of bandwidth -hungry video -on -demand 
services, such as the BBC iPlayer and 40D, putting 



real strains on ISPs' bandwidth, something's got to 
give. Consumers used to cheap broadband won't be 
enamoured if they suddenly have to start paying the 
real cost of their bandwidth because they demand 
guaranteed speeds. A 2Mbits/sec leased line with no 
contention costs about £4,000 a year. Would you fork 
that out for the convenience of watching Eastenders in 
high definition? 

You'll find many other interesting issues to 
ponder in our special report, which also looks at the 
rapidly moving world of mobile broadband. Since we 
first covered this in our December 2007 issue, mobile 
operators have fallen over each other to compete 
with cheaper 3G packages and offers. It looks like a 
great option, but there are snags, as the businessman 
who ended up with an £1 1,000 roaming charge (for 
downloading an episode of a TV series) discovered. 

Vista Service Pack 1 has created waves around 
the world this month, with people gobbling up 
internet bandwidth to download it, only to find 
that it has broken their PC. Make sure you're not 
one of them by reading our guide to getting and 
installing it on page 50. We've experienced no 
problems with SPl so far but your mileage may 
vary, as they say. Overall it seems to be a step in 
the right direction, but don't expect it to work 
any miracles. 

With spring under way and summer just around 
the corner, it seems a fitting time to turn our 
attention to the great outdoors. Satellite navigation 
is one of the few technologies that is still booming 
in terms of sales, and the number of GPS devices 
on the market is now enormous. This month we've 
taken a look at some of the more unusual models 
that can help you navigate using topographic maps 
as well as street maps. So if you fancy the idea of 
getting out a bit more this year, turn to page 87 
right now for a bit of inspiration. PCW 



We are always happy to hear from you, email us at letters@pcw.co.uk 



X For daily news updates, 
^ reviews and downloads 
www.pcw.co.uk 



Editorial Tel 020 7316 9000 • Fax 020 7316 9313 

Subscription enquiries Online via our secure website: www.subscription.co.uk/help/vnu 

Email vnu@subscription.co.uk • Tel 0870 830 4971 

Back issue and cover disc orders Tel: 0870 830 4973 For full contact details see page 175 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



This month's essential stories and in-depth analysis 



EDITED BY 
CLIVE AKASS 



Atoms power pocket mobiles 



IN THIS SECTION 

NEWS 

10 Websites paid to 
install malware 
Humyo offers 30GB free 
online storage 

11 AMD launches Phenoms 
Chip giants develop new 
memory 

IDF latest 
14 Vista SP1 released 

Microsoft "endorsed junk" 
Novell rattles skeletons 

17 Femtocell packs Wifi router 
Homeplug matures 

RETRO 

19 Beeb conquered the world 
How BBC Micro designers 
developed a dominant 
chip architecture 

SPECIAL 

18 Prepare to meet thy doom 
Scientists call for better 
computer models of the 
effects of climate change - 
and for adaptation 
strategies 



^ Keep up to date 
^ with the news, 

reviews and 

competitions in our 

weekly newsletter. 

To subscribe go to 

www.vnuservices.co.uk/pcw 



Intel has launched five low-drain 
processors designed to power an 
emerging class of pocketable 
connected computers. 

The Atom processors, 
codenamed Silverthorne, are Intel's 
smallest ever at 7.8x3.1 mm, and 
clock between 800MHz and 
1.86GHz. They have been designed 
from the ground up for power 
efficiency so that even the fastest 
has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) 
of just 2.4W (see photo). This 
compares with a TDP (the heat that 
a system is designed to dissipate) of 
35W for a typical laptop processor. 

The Atoms, unveiled at the Intel 
Developer Forum (IDF) in Shanghai, 
will be sold with a single chip called 
the Intel System Controller Hub, 
which includes 3D, plus 720p and 
10801 HD graphics. They are 
designed for what Intel calls MIDs 
- mobile internet devices - which 
hardly constitute a new category 
as they would embrace Apple's 
iPhone, the Nokia 8xx series, and 
indeed any connected PDA or 
smartphone. 

What is new is the computing 
power of devices of this size and 
the slightly larger ultramobile PCs. 
The new chips will also be used in 
other fanless devices, including 
in-car entertainment systems. 




A needle set against Atom dies on a wafer. The first five Atom chips launched 
are: Z500 (800MHz, 0.65W, $45); Z510 (1.16GHz, 2W, $45); Z520 (1.33GHz, 
2W, $65); Z530 (1.6GHz, 2W, $95); Z540 (1.86GHz, 2.4W, $160). Figures in 
brackets are clock rates, TDP power and bulk price including controller hub 



The launch prices are relatively 
low, but they are targeting a price- 
sensitive market. 

Before IDF, Intel revealed details 
of other chips to be released later 
this year, including those using the 
Nehalem architecture, which will 
supersede current Core 2 designs. 

One surprise is that the first 
releases, for home PCs, will have just 
four cores compared with the six or 
eight some people had speculated. 
They will share 8MB of Level 3 
cache, with 256KB of Level 2 per 
core. As expected, they kill off the 
front-side bus, pulling the memory 



controller on to the processor - 
something AMD had introduced five 
years ago with its Athlon 64. 

A new chipset, codenamed 
Tylersburg, uses a point-to-point link 
similar to AMD's Hyper Transport 
and will support DDR3 memory. 

Also in the pipeline for the 
second half of this year is a six-core 
server processor, codenamed 
Dunnington, that uses Core 2 
architecture. Intel will demonstrate 
its anticipated Larabee graphics 
processor later this year. Clive Akass 
• New AMD Phenoms and more 
from IDF - see page 9. 



ARM 'equal on speed and better on power drain' 



Chip designer ARM claims that 
processors using its cores can 
match Intel's new Atoms "toe 
to toe" on performance per 
megahertz and beat them on 
power efficiency. 

Bob Morris, director of mobile 
computing, pointed out that ARM 
cores already drive devices such as 
Apple's iPhone and Nokia's N800 
series. "The iPhone uses an 
ARM 11 core, running at between 
300 and 400MHz. The user 
experience on that is very good. 
Products coming out later this 
year will run our Cortex A8 cores, 
which have a 2x-3x increase in 
performance." 



ARM also has an A9 
architecture supporting multiple 
cores, but that will take some time 
to filter through into products. 
Unlike Intel, ARM sells designs to 
other companies that pack 
peripheral functions around its 
cores to create systems on a chip. 

Morris pointed out: "This is not 
a case of Intel versus ARM. It's Intel 
versus Samsung, Texas Instruments, 
Qualcomm and Broadcom - all of 
which have been making mobile 
products for years. They have all 
the radios integrated into chips, 
which Intel is still working on." 

Tl's A8-based OMAP 3430 SoC 
supports 720p HD playback, XGA 



resolution, 12-megapixel cameras, 
DVD quality and Imagination 
Technology's PowerVR SGX 
graphics. The Atom graphics are 
on a separate chip. 

The biggest difference, said 
Morris, will be in standby power. 
Intel cites the Atom as draining a 
hefty 100MW in standby - and 
that is just the central processor. 
"The leakage is the killer," he said. 
"ARM partners know how to 
power things down. You can leave 
your smartphone in your pocket at 
weekends and pick it up and still 
have charge." 

• How the Beeb helped conquer 
the world - see page 19. 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



NEWS 



Microsoft wins standards war 



In brief 



Microsoft has won its battle 
to have the Office Open 
XML (OOXML) formats, 
used in its Office 2007 suite, 
accepted as a global standard. 
The International Standards 
Organisation's decision, which 
required a two-thirds majority in a 
vote by standards bodies from 
different countries, follows months 
of vicious wrangling with 
accusations of rigged votes and 
other skullduggery. 

It means Microsoft can compete 
for contracts with governments 
that had pledged to use only open 
formats endorsed by the ISO. 
OOXML had already been 
approved as a standard by the 
European industry body ECMA. 

A preliminary vote late last year 
went against Microsoft, which then 



submitted amendments to its 
specification to answer criticisms 
from national bodies. The objectors 
were then asked if they wished to 
change their vote. 

The decision means there are 
now two ISO document standards. 
Supporters of the rival Open 
Document Format claimed OOXML 
is not truly open because it was not 
designed by an open process. They 
also suspect Microsoft will find 
ways to retain control. 

As the final vote began, Marino 
Marcich, managing director of the 
ODF Alliance, complained that 
many critical issues with OOXML, 
including intellectual property 
rights, had not been discussed; and 
a crucial decision about how an 
OOXML standard would be 
maintained had been delayed. 



The battle has also been a case 
of corporates trying to gain market 
edge, with IBM and Sun backing 
ODF. If OOXML had failed to get 
endorsement, it could still have 
ended up as the most-used format, 
undermining the ISO's authority. 

But Microsoft Office is facing 
tougher competition. The 
Openoffice.org has just released a 
new version of its free open-source 
office suite, which looks 
superficially like a clone of the old 
Microsoft Office and saves and 
reads Microsoft formats. 

And Google has announced it is 
to offer code to allow users of its 
online Google Docs applications to 
work offline. Any changes will be 
automatically synchronised with 
documents stored online when a 
user reconnects. 



Thousands sign online to keep XP alive 



More than 100,000 people 
worldwide have signed a 'Save XP' 
petition organised by the US 
magazine Infoworld. 

The operating system will no 
longer be available as a shrink- 
wrapped product after 30 June, 
though PC builders will be able to 
pre-install XP until January. 



A starter edition of XP will be 
available until mid-2010 in 
emerging markets, according to 
Microsoft, which claims Vista sales 
are heading for 100 million. 

However, most Vista installs are 
in machines sold to home users. 
Business have been slow to adopt, 
not unusual with a new operating 



system, and some are concerned 
about hardware and software 
compatibility and performance, 
particularly on older machines. 

But not everyone responding to 
the petition was against Vista. One 
wrote: "I've had Vista on my 
laptop since launch and I haven't 
had any major issues with it." 



Robots play the beautiful game at Robocup 

This 60cm robot from Germany's Freiburg ^R^^K 



This 60cm robot from Germany's Freiburg 
University will compete this month in a 
Robocup football tournament with entries 
from all over Germany. 

Each team in the competition at 
Hannover Messe, organised by 
Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, 
comprises four automaton players and a 
goalie. The robots have to be able to 
function independently, processing 
information from their camera 'eyes' in 
real time. See http://tinyurl.com/3asf8v for 
more details. 

A practice session ahead of the Robocup 




Vodafone update 

Vodafone announced new 
mobile broadband prices after 
our feature starting on page 30 
went to press. Monthly charges 
on contracts of a year or more 
are £15 capped at 3GB, or £25 
capped at 5GB; on a 30-day 
contract you pay £20 with a 3GB 
cap. Roaming charges while 
abroad are £60 and £90 a month 
respectively, with a 200MB cap. 

Web 'addictive' 

Web addiction should be added 
to the list of mental disorders, 
says to a US doctor. Symptoms 
include anger, depression and 
fatigue at computer withdrawal. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212352 

Wimax mobile 

Freedom4, the company 
formerly known as Pipex 
Wireless, has applied to Ofcom 
for the right to offer mobile 
Wimax services. In a joint 
venture with Intel, the company 
has already begun a rollout of 
fixed Wimax services. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/22l2112 

Zetta life 

More digital information is 
created about you than you 
generate yourself, according to 
analyst IDC. It reckoned the 
'digital universe' contained 281 
exabytes, and that by 2011 it 
will have grown to 1 .8 zettabytes 
- that is 1 .8 billion terabytes. 

$1bn HD DVD 

Toshiba lost an estimated 
$665.5m (£330m) on its HD 
DVD business in the year up to 
21 March, in addition to $348m 
it lost on the technology the 
previous financial year - a total 
of more than $1bn, according to 
the US trade magazine Twice. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212400 



MyDVD 10 



Roxio has released MyDVD 10 
Premier, a video-editing and 
DVD suite for home use. It costs 
£49.99 from www.roxio.co.uk. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



NEWS > GENERAL 



In brief 



Thought control 

A neckband has been developed 
that allows people with disabilities 
to talk to a computer without 
vocalising the words. The Audeo 
device picks up neural control 
signals as they head for the vocal 
cords and interprets them as text. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/22l1937 

02 Atmos 

The latest version of 02's XDA 
smartphone, called the Atmos, 
packs the standard mobile 
keypad and a slide-out Qwerty 
keyboard. It is powered by 
Windows Mobile 6.0, enabling 
real-time email delivery from 
Exchange servers via quad-band 
GSM or HSDPA links. 
-» www.o2.co.uk. 




New Toshes 

A range of Toshiba laptops will 
ship in the next few weeks. 
Business models include the 
Satellite Pro A300, with a 15in 
screen, the thin-and-light 
Satellite Pro U400, and the 
Satellite Pro P300 with a 17in 
widescreen display. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212366 

Static fan 

us researchers have developed 
a solid-state fan that moves air 
by ionising it in an electric field. 
The fan is said to have three 
times the flow rate of a small 
mechanical fan, despite being a 
quarter of the size. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212374 

Smart trolley 

A shopping trolley developed by 
Microsoft will take you to any 
item that you ask for in a store. 
It uses Wifi to locate the trolley 
and RFID to identify the item. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212257 



Sites paid to install malware 



Evidence of how spyware 
authors and botnet owners 
pay sites to infect visitors with 
malware has been uncovered by 
security specialist Messagelabs. 

A site called Installscash gives a 
price list based on the number of 
'installs' on machines and the 
countries in which they are based. 
An infected PC in Australia is worth 
four times one in France. 

Prices per thousand installs 
are listed as: US $50; UK $60; 
Netherlands $25; France $25, 
Poland $18, Italy $60, Germany 
$25, Spain $25, Australia $100, 
Greece $25, Asia $3. 

Sites can be used to enlarge 
botnets by infecting visitors with 
Trojans that allow the PCs to be 
used for Denial-of-Service attacks or 
sending out spam. Or they can be 
used to prime botnet for a new task. 

Messagelabs senior architect 
Maksym Schipka explained that 




infected machines can be instructed 
to pick up new instructions or code 
from the host site, obscuring the 
true origin. 

Installscash offers a Russian 
language version of itself, so it 
would appear to have originated in 
Russia. Schipka says such machines 
are often physically based in 
countries where it is difficult to have 
them shut down. 



Installscash shows a price 
list for installing malware 

Some of the malware 
is specifically targeted 
and designed to evade 
detection by anti-virus 
software. A simple line 
of code can be added 
to an HTML page to 
implement a drive-by 
install of spyware. 

The Annual Global 
Threat Report from 

security firm Scansafe reported 

that malicious code is staying live 

for longer on websites. 

The average was 19 days for 

the first half of 2007 and 29 per 

cent in the following six months. 

The number of 'malicious web 

events' rose by 61 per cent in the 

same period. 

-^ www.scansafe.com 

-^ www.messagelabs.com 



Virus painting by numbers 



Computer viruses can behave 
much like organic ones in the way 
that they spread and reproduce. 
They also look like the living 
viruses, at least in visualisations 
by computational artist 
Alex Dragulescu. 

Security specialist 
Messagelabs recently staged 
an exhibition of his work in 
London, called 'Infected Art, 



Bringing Cyber Threats 

to Life'. The artist was 

not there to explain his 

work but it seems the 

pictures derived at least 

in part from various 

squiggles being 

assigned to 

machine-code 

operations. A sort of painting by 

numbers, in fact. The one 




pictured here is supposed to 
represent the Mydoom virus. 



Humyo offers 30GB free online storage 



An online service offers 30GB of free 
storage accessible via a web browser 
from anywhere in the world. 

The Humyo.com service has 
nearly 90TB of storage in a former 
Bank of England vault and an 
intelligent interface that senses the 
type of device accessing it and uses 
the appropriate interface. 

This means you can access your 
files from a mobile phone and 
stream music and video to it. 

However, the basic service does 
not allow you to transfer files 



directly to a local machine: you 
have to open them and save 
them from within an application. 
25GB of the storage is restricted 
to multimedia files. 

A £29.99-a-year premium 
service gives you 100GB, data 
encryption, and software that sets 
the storage up as an extra drive on 
your PC (we hit a small problem 
with this - see our Test Bed blog at 
http://tinyurl.com/2n3jfy) . 

The software also automatically 
backs up your PC and allows 



real-time online collaboration on a 
document over the web. 

Founder Dan Conlon says 
100,000 people had already 
signed up at the end of a 
six-month beta phase, despite a 
lack of publicity. 

The site also allows users to 
share folders with friends or 
embed a player in emails and on 
sites such as Facebook and 
Myspace so people can view your 
pictures or videos. 
-> www.humyo.com 



10 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



HARDWARE < NEWS 



Bug-free Phenom chips arrive 



Four AMD Phenom quad-core 
processors have finally gone on 
sale after being delayed for 
months by a bug in the translation 
lookaside buffer (TLB) used to 
speed up memory accesses. 

AMD senior product manager 
Ian McNaughton said the bug was 
one of a number associated with 
x86 architecture and had been 
blown out of all proportion. AMD 
discussed it openly at the Phenom's 
launch to maintain credibility with 
server manufacturers. 

The new 2.2GHz Phenom 9550, 
2.3GHz 9650, 2.4GHz Phenom 
9750 and 2.5GHz 9850 cost $209, 
$215, $215 and $235 respectively. 

The latter has an unlocked 
multiplier so enthusiasts can 
overdock it. We pushed all four 
cores stably to 3.1GHz using an 
Akasa AK-876 air cooler but even 
at this speed it was outclassed by 




Die shot of 
the quad-core 
Phenom. 
AMD says 
bug issue was 
"blown out of 
proportion" 



Intel quad-cores (see review on 
page 58). 

The conclusion has to be that 
AMD will have to bring down 
prices to be able to compete. 

Intel plans to release a 1.8GHz 
energy-efficient version of the 
Phenom, called the 9100e, with a 



65W thermal envelope - compared 
with the Phenom 9700's 125W and 
the 9600's 95W. 

The triple-core Phenom 8000 
series, which are quad-core 
Phenoms with one dud core, are 
expected to be available to buy by 
the time you read this. 



chip giants unite for Flash replacement 



A joint venture between two of the 
world's largest chip firms plans to 
release a new alternative to Flash 
memory this year. 

Numonyx, formed from the 
memory units of Intel and 
STMicroelectronics to 
commercialise phase-change 
memory, was created to 
commercialise Phase Change 
Memory (PCM), which is said to 



combine the read speed of NOR 
Flash and write speed of NAND. 

PCM memory also degrades far 
more slowly than Flash memory 
and requires no erase cycle. 

Phase-change memory works 
by using tiny heaters to switch cells 
of chalcogenide glass between a 
low-resistance crystalline state and 
an amorphous form with a much 
higher resistance. 



Home-grown smartphones launch 

UK mobile handset makers have been scarce since the 
demise of Sendo after an acrimonious dispute 
with Microsoft. But Velocity Mobile, based in 
Tunbridge Wells, has launched two smartphones 
using Windows Mobile 6.1. 

It teamed up with notebook designer 
Inventec to develop the Velocity 103 and 111. 
Both back twin cameras for video calls and 
snapshots, and support HSDPA and GSM/Edge, 
Wifi, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS. 

The 103, which has a touchscreen, will be 
out this summer; the 111, with a Qwerty 
keyboard, will be available this autumn. 
-^ www.velocitymobile.com 




Intel said in February that it had 
produced PCM cells that store two 
bits instead on one, which could 
make the technology price 
competitive with Flash for purposes 
such as solid-state disks. 

Initial applications are likely to 
be in mobile phones but the 
technology is unlikely to go 
mainstream for at least two years. 
-^ www.numonyx.com 

Faster frugals 
draw just SOW 

Intel has launched two frugal server 
quad-cores drawing just 50W, or 
12.5W per core. The 45nm Xeon 
L5420 and L5410 clock 2.5GHz 
and 2.33GHz respectively and are 
said to be 25 per cent faster than 
previous Xeons of their class. 

The L5420 will cost $380 (£190) 
in bulk and the L5410 $320 (£160). 
Intel plans to ship before July a new 
dual -core low-voltage 40W 
processor clocked at 3GHz, with a 
6MB cache and a 1,333MHz FSB. 
-^ www.pcw.co.uk/2212665 



Intel gives PCs 
a bit of ESP 

A Intel project called Everyday 
Sensing and Perception (ESP) aims 
to make computers more human in 
the way they work. 

Andrew Chien, director of the 
company's corporate technology 
research unit, told the Intel 
Developer Forum in Shanghai it 
would seek ways to make systems 
"more aware in everyday activities 
and environments". 

He identified four research 
projects aimed at achieving "90 per 
cent accuracy for 90 per cent of 
the day": 

• Laugh looks at social interaction. 
Applications could register sounds, 
motion and images to assess 
what a user is doing and suggest 
related information or provide 
appropriate music. 

• Learn aims to understand 
interests and motivations to guide 
and educate users rather than 
simply channel information. 

• Touch aims to bridge the gap 
between the physical and virtual 
worlds. Robot computers need to 
be able recognise and manipulate 
objects with the correct amount of 
force and speed. 

• Move focuses on location and 
physical context to improve the 
ability of GPS and image- 
recognition systems to provide 
relevant advice and information. 

Chien concluded that, by 
working closely with other 
institutions, devices and systems 
can use high-level semantics to 
understand and become aware of 
the world around them and the 
needs of the user. Ian Williams 

Wifi Classmate 

Intel unveiled a new-look Wifi- 
enabled Classmate PC at IDF. It is 
designed to provide schools with a 
low-cost educational platform. 

The company was accused last 
year of undermining the One 
Laptop Per Child project to produce 
$100 laptops for schools in poor 
countries by offering first- 
generation Classmate at below-cost 
price to gain market share. It later 
joined the project. 

Elonex is selling an educational 
mobile in the UK for just £99. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



11 



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NEWS > SOFTWARE 




Mozilla slams 
Safari updates 

The Mozilla Corporation has 
criticised Apple for spreading 
its Safari web browser through 
its software update service, 
normally used to patch 
applications that have already 
been installed. 

Mozilla chief executive John 
Lilly described it in a blog as 
misuse of the service. 

"It undermines the trust 
relationship great companies 
have with their customers, and 
that is bad not just for Apple 
but for the security of the 
whole web." 

He argued that the practice 
might lead users to ignore future 
security patches. 

The new version. Safari 
3.1 , includes support for video 
and audiotags in HTML5 and 
the use of CSS animations and 
web fonts. Apple claims it loads 
pages up to 1 .9 times faster 
than Internet Explorer 7 and up to 
1 .7 times faster than Firefox 2. 

It is available as a free 
download for Windows or 
Apple Macs from www.apple.com. 
Mozilla has released a fourth 
beta of its Firefox 3.0 at 
http://tinyurl.com/36wvtz. 

BBC plugs 
iPlayer hole 

The BBC has plugged a hole in its 
iPlayer software for iPhones or 
iPods that allowed hackers to use 
a Firefox plug-in to bypass 
digital rights management to 
save programmes with no 
timeouts or copy restrictions. 

iPlayer programmes are 
usually viewable for only a week 
after they are first broadcast. 



Will SP1 boost Vista uptake? 



Microsoft will be watching 
this month to see if the 
release of its Service Pack 1 
package of tweaks and fixes for 
Vista will boost the number 
upgrades from XP 

If you run Windows Vista and 
have configured it for automatic 
updates (which you can do via the 
Vista Control Panel) you will 
probably have been prompted, by 
the time you read this, on whether 
or not you want to install the 
new code. 

SP1 will not install automatically 
if it recognises any incompatible 
drivers, which Microsoft says are 
responsible for many problems 
blamed on the operating system. 

But the standalone version, 
available for download from the 



Microsoft Update site, will install 
whether it likes your drivers or not. 
Microsoft has posted a short list of 
programs known to have problems 
with SP1 - see www.pcw.co.uk/ 
2212324 for the link. 

A release on this scale is bound 
to hit problems on some machines, 
but relatively few complaints have 
been recorded on the web. Neither 
has there been much enthusiasm 
expressed, however, because there 
is little new in the upgrade. 

You may notice a slight 
speed-up on some operations after 
you have used the system a few 
times, allowing a while for SP1 to 
retune its Superfetch technology, 
which anticipates what data or 
code you need and preloads it. 

Companies tend to take the SP1 



release of a new operating system 
as a sign of maturity and a signal 
to upgrade. Figures show Vista 
trailing XP in businesses. 

A survey by open-source 
content management system 
provider Alfresco Software 
indicated that 63 per cent of 
business users were still using XP 
and just two per cent used Vista. 
Marketing director Nikki Tyson 
said the survey covered 35,000 
people, mostly from Europe and 
the US, inquiring about its software 
in the year up to February. 

"The figures might be skewed 
slightly by the fact that these were 
people interested in open source, 
but it is a large sample so it is still 
significant," she said. 
• Vista's aid package - page 50 



'vista Capable' appeal backfires 



A number of embarrassing internal 
Microsoft emails have been made 
public as a result of class-action 
claiming machines were wrongly 
labelled 'Vista Capable' when they 
could run only a "hobbled" version 
of the operating system. 

A Microsoft appeal against 
a decision to grant the case 
class-action status backfired 
when the judge unsealed the 
cache of emails. 

The New York Times reported 
that Microsoft marketers used the 
term Vista Capable believing it 
avoided the implication that the 
machine would necessarily run all 
versions of Vista. 

The paper also stated that 
Microsoft set a low threshold on 




Vista Capable specs to avoid 
blighting sales of entry-level 
XP PCs. 

The decision met considerable 
internal protest, the paper said. 



Novell rattles another skeleton 

Another skeleton rattled in Microsoft cupboards when the US 
Supreme Court denied its request to drop an anti-trust suit filed by 
Novell in 1994 alleging anti-competitive behaviour. 

The case relates to when Novell owned Wordperfect, once the 
world's best-selling word processor. Microsoft is accused of squeezing 
WordPerfect out of the market by giving discounts to PC builders to 
bundle Word with their PCs. Novell is under fire for cosying up to 
Microsoft to reconcile the competing ODF and OpenXML formats. 
• Test Bed comment - see http://tinyurl.com/2ogzzh 



Allchin: 'We botched this' 

"Even a piece of junk will qualify," 
wrote Microsoft program manager 
Anantha Kancheria in an email. 

After the Vista release Mike 
Nash, vice-president of Windows 
product management, wrote that 
his laptop had been reduced to a 
'$2,100 email machine' that would 
run only a hobbled version of Vista, 
and could not cope with his 
favourite video-editing program. 

The emails also contain 
complaints by Microsoft 
high-ups about a lack of Vista 
drivers shortly after the release 
of the OS. Microsoft says the 
number of Vista drivers has 
doubled since then. 

The Vista Capable issue mirrors 
almost exactly a furore when 
Windows 95 was release 13 years 
ago. Microsoft claimed it would run 
in 4MB of Ram, the usual total in 
PCs at the time. In fact, for a 
usable performance, they required 
a costly upgrade to 16MB. 

Jim Allchin, then co-president 
of Microsoft's Platforms and 
Services Division, wrote in another 
email: "We really botched this. 
You guys have to do a better job 
with our customers." 



14 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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CEBIT UPDATE < NEWS 



Femtocell packs Wifi router 



In brief 



A femtocell home cellular base 
station from Thomson 
integrates a DSL modem, a 
Wifi access point and four-port 
Ethernet router. 

The company expects mobile 
phone providers to bundle the 
device with ADSL broadband 
access and two handsets by the 
end of the year. 

Femtocells improve cellular 
coverage within homes but offer 
even more benefit to operators 
because they make more efficient 
use of expensive spectrum and 
reduce the 'backhaul' traffic from 
base stations to truck routes. So 
femtocells are likely to pack extra 
features to encourage adoption. 

It makes sense for mobile 
operators to bundle them with 
broadband to simplify charging as 



" \ ^ \ • 1 I 1 1 i-i rT-r-TTTTTTTTT" 




mmmr-'Emir 



Thomson femtocell (left) with back-panel sockets (above) 
for phones, DSL, Ethernet USB and power 



the user's own landline is used 
for the backhaul. 

The TG870 femtocell will cost a 
little more than £150 unsubsidised 
but the price is expected to hit 
around £70 as production ramps 
up, Thomson business development 
manager Jeff Land said at Cebit. 

The TG870 supports 
3.6Mbits/sec HSDPA and 802.11 g 
Wifi. Next-generation femtocells 
shown at Mobile World Congress 
last month supported both Wimax 



and lOOMbits/sec 4G Long Term 
Evolution (LTE) links. The lOOMbits 
would be shared with other users 
over a neighbourhood base station 
but home femtocell users could 
have it to themselves. 

Another selling point is that 
femtocells offer similar home 
coverage to Wifi but use only a 
tenth of the power needed for 
transmission, reassuring those who 
give credence to claims that the 
radiation is dangerous. Emil Larsen 



Homeplug devices go lil<e a rocl<et 



Dozens of companies showed 
data- over- mains devices at Cebit, 
but the most striking was an 
Intellon prototype packing an 
Ethernet port into a standard 
power socket (see picture). 

The company says it is already 
talking to a UK builder to get the 
device fitted into new homes. 
Sadly, you can't fit them into your 
own house unless you're a certified 
electrician, or you could fall foul of 
UK Building Regulations. 

A number of media streamers 
and set top boxes are packing the 
technology so they are networked 
simply by plugging them in. 

Gigafast showed a Homeplug 
security camera and an Homeplug 



Clockwise from top left: Mains 
socket with built-in Ethernet, 
Gigafast Homeplug camera, 
rocket launcher with Homeplug 
USB link 




adapter that acts as a remote USB 
port, which on the stand was 
connected to a computer-controlled 
rocket launcher (see picture). 

Nearly every manufacturer 
showed off AC-DC adapters 
packing an Ethernet port, allowing 



Translation a snap 


1 for phones 


Linguatec showed a product 


Italian, Portuguese, Spanish 


called Shoot and Translate 


and Chinese to English, and 


that allows travellers to 


vice-verse. It also translates 


translate foreign signs, menus 


French and German both ways. 


and other text by snapping 


The phone needs a resolution 


them with a Java-enabled 


of at least two megapixels for 


cameraphone. 


the optical character recognition 


The €49 (£40) software 


to work. For more information. 


translates German, French, 


log on to www.linguatec.net. 



manufacturers to enable notebooks 
and other devices for Homeplug 
without internal modification. The 
devices got the name 'Y cables' 
because when in use they have a 
single mains wire going in and a 
DC line and an Ethernet cable 
coming out. 

A downside is that the adapters 
can power only up to SOW because 
any more creates too much noise 
for Homeplug to operate. 

Market leader Devolo showed 
off next-generation Homeplug 
rated at 400Mbits/sec but with 
real-life throughout of around 
180Mbits/sec - a speed achieved 
by using current Homeplug carrier 
frequencies for lOOMbits/sec 
and higher frequencies for 
the remainder. Emil Larsen 



WHS delays 

Medion said it was 
withholding its Windows 
Home Server product because 
of a bug that in rare 
circumstances can corrupt 
data. Iomega said it had also 
delayed a WHS launch 
because of concerns about 
demand and profitability. 

But Belinea and Fujitsu- 
Siemens both showed WHS 
products - the latter a rather 
ugly box from Intel that looks 
twice the size of its rivals. 
Belinea showed a refreshing 
orange and white model. 

Cheaper 3D 

German research organisation 
Fraunhofer showed a 3D 
LCD monitor that doesn't 
require special glasses. 

It uses a TFT display 
overlaid with a corrugated 
glass panel that sends a 
different set of pixels to each 
eye. Software adjusts the two 
images to suit your position, as 
tracked by a webcam. 

The system can be made 
more cheaply than earlier 
designs as it doesn't need an 
expensive lens. 

NVidia speed 

Gainward and InnoSD showed 
graphics cards, based on 
Nvidia's Geforce 9800GX2, 
which uses two 65nm G92 
chips like those powering the 
company's single-processor 
8800GT and 8800GTS. If the 
performance of two 8800GTs 
is anything to go by, the 
9800GX2 could end up being 
the fastest card in existence. 
Both new 9800GX2 cards 
are huge and have an HDMI 
socket to facilitate gaming on 
large-screen TVs. 

1Kw power unit 

Corsair says its IKw power 
supply will be the first to get 
Nvidia's stamp of approval for 
use with triple-SLI graphics 
cards. The HX1000W is 
essentially two 500w supplies 
in one box that Corsair says 
can supply full power at 50°C. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



17 



NEWS > CLIMATE MODELLING 



Prepare to meet thy doom 

Scientists call for better computer modelling of the local effects of climate change - and a 
strategy for adapting to them, Clive Akass reports 



Climate-change scientists called 
this month for massive 
investment to improve 
computer modelling of the effects 
of global warming. There were also 
calls at a climate symposium at the 
Royal Society in London for greater 
co-operation between the various 
specialists involved, including 
computer modelling experts. 

The symposium managed to be 
both reassuring (for people living 
well inland in Britain) and terrifying. 
The fear that Britain will freeze 
from a flipping of the Gulf Stream 
has receded; it is now thought that 
there will be a slowing of the great 
flow of warming water from the 
tropics but the loss of heat will be 
more than offset by the warming 
caused by greenhouse gases. 

Chart after chart at the 
symposium showed that climate 
change is both normal and scary. 
Ice sheets reached down to 
London's Finchley Road just 200 
lifetimes ago; 100 lifetimes ago you 
could walk from Britain to the 
continent. As one speaker said: 
"Anything that has happened in 
the past can happen again." 



The question that exercised the 
scientists was the extent to which 
you can use past fluctuations to 
build computer models to predict 
future changes - and how you then 
persuade people to believe those 
models, especially when they are 
riddled with uncertainties. 

You can read the past to see 
what the world looked like under 
different climatic conditions. You 
can test your computer models to 
see how well they can fit historical 
records. But, as several speakers 
pointed out, your models can only 
take you so far because what is 
happening now is unprecedented. 

The one certainty, for all but a 
small minority of scientists, is that 
human activity is causing the world 
to warm up. What is not known for 
sure is how quickly this will happen, 
and what the effects will be. 

The complexities are daunting. 
To take two variables: global 
temperature and the level of carbon 
dioxide in the atmosphere. The 
relationship between these is 
generally depicted as a simple case 
of the more the CO2, the hotter the 
earth. But Professor Peter Cox of the 



University of Exeter pointed out: 
"The climate is sensitive to CO2 but 
CO2 is more sensitive to climate." 

Higher temperatures affect the 
growth of C02-absorbing plants 
and the absorption of CO2 in the 
oceans, with the result that rises in 
temperature historically tend to 
come some time after CO2 levels 
increase. This fact was seized upon 
by a recent Channel 4 documentary 
to dismiss global warming claims as 
a "swindle" (see below). 

For scientists it is another 
complex feedback mechanism to fit 
into their models. Humans are of 
course disturbing its damping effect 
by releasing CO2 trapped for 
millennia as oil, a natural form of 
carbon sequestration. 

Desperately in need of better 
modelling is the melting of ice, 
both at the poles and in more 
southerly upland glaciers that act 
like a reservoir for water supplies in 
places like northern India, the 
symposium was told. 

The effect of ice and ocean 
warming on future sea levels has 
produced an alarming range of 
predictions. Professor Gerard Roe, 



of the University of Washington, 
said he had recently been to a 
workshop of experts, none of 
whom "was prepared to rule out 
the possibility of [a rise of] metres 
in a century". 

A rise of just one metre would 
put much of East Anglia, Holland, 
and the north German coast 
below sea level and displace 
millions of people in places 
including Bangladesh (see 
http://flood.firetree.net) . 

Local impacts such as these need 
more study and better forecasts. 
Professor Bob Watson, chief 
scientific adviser to the Department 
of Environment, Food and Rural 
Affairs, called for "high-resolution, 
probabilistic models". 

He agreed that this would 
require multi-petaflops of 
computing power that might need 
to be financed at a European level. 

He stressed that there was no 
point in predicting the impact of 
climate change without also 
developing a strategy for adapting 
to it, and that the issue should not 
be divorced from others such as 
bio-diversity and pollution. 



Scientist hits back at global warming ^swindle' documentary 



The relationship between CO2 
levels and temperature (see 
above) was not the only issue 
over which the Channel 4 
documentary The Great Global 
Warming Swindle came under 
fire. One scientist went so far as 
to accuse it of lying. 

The programme ascribed 
rising global temperatures to 
fluctuations in solar energy 
reaching the earth, or solar 
irradiance. This fluctuates over an 
11 -year cycle (see picture), with 
larger variations over the 
centuries, and is one of many 
variables that must be fed into 
climate models. 

Even looked at in isolation, the 
figures are not reassuring. The 




graph on the right shows global 
temperature since 1980 has risen 
sharply while solar radiation has 
remained relatively flat. 

The programme cited the 
fallibility of computer models as 
grounds for scepticism. Yet, as 
with all weather forecasts, the fact 









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Left: Composite 
Nasa picture of 
the sun over 11 
years, showing 
variations in 
radiation 
Right: Global 
temperature has 
risen dramatically 
compared to solar 
radiation 



that they can be wrong doesn't 
mean they cannot say some 
things for sure. And the argument 
cuts both ways: the models could 
be underestimating the problem. 
The possibility exists that we 
could trigger a thermal runaway 
that destroys all life on earth. But 



happily that is not considered at 
all likely. 

Professor Martin Visbeck, of 
Keil University, told me: "We are 
far more likely to be destroyed 
in the next 300 or 400 years by 
a new disease sweeping across 
the world." 



18 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



RETRO < NEWS 



How the Beeb helped conquer the world 

There are now more ARM processors in use than there are people on the planet - and all 
thanks to the old BBC Micro, Clive Akass attends a reunion of the design team 



The designers of the 
venerable BBC Micro , , 

computer recalled this month i 
how it led to the development of 
one of the world's two dominant 
processor architectures. 

Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber 
were Cambridge graduates working 
for a local start-up called Acorn in 
the early 1980s when the BBC 
launched its Computer Literacy 
Project, one of the most successful 
mass-education exercises ever. 

Acorn was one of seven 
companies asked to submit designs 
for a machine that would provide 
a standard platform for a series 
of TV teach-ins on computing. 
Wilson and Furber put 
together a prototype in just five 
days and it won the contract. 

The Beeb, as it became 
known, came at an 
extraordinary time, when the 
Great British Public was 
beginning to realise that almost 
anyone could afford a computer 
and learn to use it. Even so, the 
BBC was astonished by the 
response to its programmes. 

One in six of the population, 
men and women of all ages, 
viewed at least one of them; and 
sales of the BBC Micro, predicted 
to be around 12,000, eventually 
reached 1.5 million. 

There was, according to John 
Radcliffe, executive producer of the 
literacy project, a lot of anxiety 
among viewers about whether they 
would be able to cope. "And the 
older people feared they would be 
outclassed by the younger ones," 
he told a reunion at London's 
Science Museum of BBC and Acorn 
people involved. 

It used a six-year-old processor, 
the MOS 6502, and the first model 
had just 16KB of Ram. But it had 
lots of stuff proto-geeks could get 
into: a well-structured Basic 
language and ports capable of 
networking, controlling add-ons, 
downloading software from the TV 
via a Teletext adapter and even 
linking in a co-processor. 

To keep the price down it used 





a TV as a monitor, connecting via 
the aerial socket using a design 
Furber adapted from one he found 
in Wireless World magazine. 

The greatest immediate impact 
on Acorn was psychological, said 
Furber. "The engineers became 
very confident that the things that 
they did would work." 

They soon began to look round 
for a processor to power a 
successor to the Micro. "We looked 
at the 16-bit processors that were 
around at the time, the Motorola 
68000 and the National 
Semiconductor 32016 and we 
didn't like what we found. 

"These were very complex 
processors based on mini-computer 
architectures and they took a very 
long time to do some things. In 
particular they had a very poor 
interrupt latency, so that every 
time you wanted them to do 
something different it took them a 
long time to stop what they were 
doing and pay attention to what 
you wanted them to do." 

Acorn had taken on some chip 
designers and did not know quite 
what to do with them. A decision 



Gold-plated BBC Micro 
presented as a competition 
prize. Above: Steve Furber 



followed a trip Wilson 
and Furber took to the 
Western Design Center 
at Phoenix, Arizona, 
where the successor to 
the MOS 6502 was 
being drawn up. 
"We expected 
4tt| to find big shiny 
'™ American buildings 
full of big computers. What we 
found were a bunch of people 
working in a bungalow using Apple 
lis and employing high-school 
kids over the summer to do circuit 
design. We came away saying that 
if they could design a processor, 
then so could we." 

Furber drew up a reference 
model, a kind of design template, 
for a new processor in 808 lines of 
BBC Basic code; and Wilson, now 
chief architect at Broadcom, 
worked on the instruction set. The 
project was kept secret in case 
nothing came of it. "Eighteen 
months later we found ourselves 
with a working, rather effective 
ARM [then standing for Acorn 
RISC Machine] chip. It was the 
26th of April 1985," Furber said. 
"When we decided to make it 
public I had the strange experience 
of ringing up journalists and saying 
'We've made a new processor.' 
And them saying: 'We don't 
believe you.' And hanging up." 
The first ARM was used as a 
co-processor for the BBC Micro. 
The next version, the ARM2, 
powered the fabled Archimedes 



desktop computer. But Acorn, 
unlike Apple in the US, never had a 
home market big enough to allow 
it to withstand the dominance of 
Wintel machines, despite having 
technology that was in many ways 
superior, and the company was 
bought by Olivetti in 1985. 

However, the 32-bit ARM 
architecture had two things going 
for it. Its reduced instruction set 
meant it had fewer hard-wired 
functions, a lower transistor count, 
and a smaller footprint than Intel 
chips. And it was designed to run 
cool to avoid the expense of fans in 
the price-sensitive educational 
market targeted by Acorn. 

"That was serendipitous," said 
Furber, ICL Professor of Computer 
Engineering at Manchester 
University. "We had to keep the 
power consumption below 1W. The 
[chip] design tools were not very 
good at the time and when we got 
the chip in it turned out to be 
drawing only a tenth of that." 

The result was that Apple used 
ARM chips in its ground-breaking 
1993 Newton handheld. The 
machine was a flop, but it opened 
doors for Advanced Rise Machines, 
spun off from Acorn in 1990 to 
develop the ARM processor. 

Two other trends buoyed up the 
company: the emergence of mobile 
phones, and the increasing use of 
systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) - packing 
all the modules for one application 
around a central processing core on 
a single piece of silicon. 

ARM'S business is now built 
around providing core designs for 
other companies to use in SoCs. 
The number of devices using ARM 
cores exceeded 10 billion in 
January - more than one for each 
person on earth and far 
outnumbering x86 processors. 

"It would not have happened 
without the BBC Micro," said 
Furber. "Without that success we 
would not have had the confidence 
to design a microprocessor." 
• There will be an exhibition 
dedicated to the BBC Micro at 
the Science Museum in 2009. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



19 



Your feedback, our opinions 




LEnERS 



Send your letters to The Editor, PCW, 

Incisive Media, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London, 

W1 A 2HG Send your email to letters@pcw.co.uk 



Forget 3D gaming 




Your otherwise fine nostalgia-fest 
feature. History of PC Games {PCW 
April 2008), barely mentioned the text 
games that were so popular in the early 
1980s. Back in the days when graphics 
cards were unknown. Ram was 640KB, 
operating systems and applications 
were loaded by floppy disk, the 
internet barely existed outside the 
military and monitors were 
monochrome and text-only. 

In 1990, when I was working for a 
metropolitan authority that shall 
remain nameless, the playing of text 
games, particularly Zork and the 
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was 
endemic among us grunt workers to 
counter the sheer bureaucratic ennui of 
our daily existence. 

They were gripping, required us to 



Released in September 1984, the text-based 
Hitchhiker's Guide was an instant hit 

use our imaginations, and were often 
fiendishly difficult - 1 still remember 
with pride being one of only three 
people to finish Hitchhiker's Guide 
after what must have been hundreds of 
hours of play over a year. 

Their best advantage, though, was 
that because they were text our bosses 
thought we were beavering away at 
word processing or data entry, a luxury 
that modern cubefarm drones no 
longer have in the days of high-quality 
3D graphics. 

I mourn the demise of text games 
which, like a good book compared with 
a multimillion-dollar film, require you 
to use your imagination rather than 
bludgeoning your senses wixYr w^hizz- 
bang special effects. They also ran on 
the lowest spec PCs, required no 
graphics cards, needed no motor skills 
other than typing, and you could learn 
how to play them in minutes. 

I hope that, one day, gamers will 
return to the technical simplicity but 
narrative complexity of text games, and 
that new titles will be produced by 
w^riters w^ith imagination. And if this 
ever happens, I hope and pray that a 
sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide is one of 
the first to emerge. 
Fred Riley 



THE HISTORY OF PCW 

Congratulations and thanks on 
the first-class 30th anniversary 
issue of PCW. It looked absolutely 
great. Here are a few more facts 
on the early issues of PCW, 
which it seems are vague to 
many people. The first issue was 
published (available in the shops) 
on 8 February 1978. 

This issue was not dated (just 
issue 1, volume 1) as I was not 
sure there would be a second 
issue - firstly because computer 
experts at that time thought it 
was too early for a PC magazine. 



and secondly I had very little 
money, no office and no 
permanent staff. In fact, our 
so-called office was a table at 
the Troubadour Cafe on Old 
Brompton Road, London SW5, 
with a convenient telephone 
kiosk located just outside. 

The editor, Meyer Solomon, 
lived round the corner and was 
working part-time in the cafe, 
and the magazine address was 
listed as the newsagents above 
where I was living at the time. 

What prompted me to publish 
the magazine was that I was 




It all started here 



20 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



^ Unless otherwise stated, letters sent to the Editor, PCW team or contributors 
will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for clarity or length. 



always interested in new 
technology and had read a 
considerable amount about it 
(free newspapers and magazines 
from my shop!) 

In mid 1977, US newspaper 
The Wall Street Journal published 
an article on small computers, 
which fascinated me. I researched 
a bit more by getting Byte and 
Kilobaud magazines from the US. 

The first issue was a sell-out 
and we received about 3,000 
subscribers, which ensured there 
would be more issues of PCW. 
Angelo Zgorelec (PCI/I/ founder) 

PERSONAL TOUR OF 
BLETCHLEY PARK 

In reply to Rod Theobald {PCW 
May 2008, Letters), I used to be 
the chairman of the Elliott 803 
Users' Group and I'd like to 
extend an invitation to all PCW 
readers to visit Bletchley Park's 
newly opened National Museum 
of Computing (www.tnmoc.co.uk). 

If PCW readers would like to 
contact me, I'd be most honoured 
to give them a personal tour 
around the museum and the 
Colossus rebuild. 

To arrange a tour, please email 
me on pcw@clock-tower.com. 
Sheridan Williams 

THREE CHEERS 
FOR THE ADA 

In the news article 'German beats 
wartime Colossus on Nazi 
decrypt' {PCW, April 2008), you 
describe how Joachim Schueth 
recently used his laptop to beat 
the replica Colossus at Bletchley 
Park - I suspect living nearer to 
the transmitter helped him too. 
On the same page, you also 
mention Ada Lovelace, so it is 
rather odd that you didn't 
mention the connection between 
them. Joachim used the Ada 
programming language to process 
the radio signals and to simulate 
the behaviour of Colossus. How 
refreshing it is to see someone 
choosing to write programs in 
Ada, whether it is for the sheer 
fun of it or because they want 
confidence that their programs 
will not let them down on the 
day. Well done Joachim and Ada! 
Terry Froggatt 



PRICE AND 
PRACTICALITY 

It's not just me (a 50-year-old 
ex-Z88 and Acorn Rise PC user), 
but also my wife (a 42 -year-old 
late adopter of home computing), 
who would like an Asus Eee PC 
and a Wii. However, while most 
people seem to have understood 
what is good about a Wii they 
don't seem to have grasped the 
essential about the Eee PC, and, 
with its recent announcement of 
a new version, I fear this could 
include Asus. 

The issues for me, and lots of 
others, are price and practicality. 
If you want a laptop for email 
and a bit of word processing, 
then there is a world of difference 
between £220 and £340 in the 
justification stakes. 

You just cannot compare a 
£1,000 Apple Macbook Air with 
an Eee PC any more than you 
can compare a Ford Ka with a 
Ferrari. However, the Eee PC is 
not just a cheap laptop, it is small 
enough to take in your luggage - 
not as your luggage. For many, 
this is a very practical point. 

I also think Asus missed a trick 
with the soldered Flash memory. 
If it had put a second SDHC port 
inside and fitted it with a fast 
card, then it could have made 
one model but shipped whatever 
was in demand. But what do I 
know? I can't even find one in 
stock at the right price. 
Mark Foweraker 

PSION OF THE TIMES 

I loved your April issue - all 
very nostalgic! When my young 
lad (now some 32 years old and 
with one-and-a-half PhDs under 
his belt) first came home from 
his primary school talking about 
computers, I resolved to keep 
ahead of him. 

Inevitably, a Sinclair ZX81 
came along, soon followed by a 
ZX Spectrum and then a BBC 
Micro with all the bits. 

Throughout this learning 
curve, I discovered Psion and 
have had virtually every model 
since the very first 'push/pull' 
grey device. I used these various 
Psion offerings throughout my 
healthcare career as I had a 



The Eee PC has 
quickly gained a 
loyal following 





need for truly portable, 
instant-access information. 

Now, as a professional 
photographer, I have learned 
to absorb the digital age and 
Photoshop and still believe I am 
keeping ahead of my son - 
especially when it comes to 
imaging and spreadsheets. 

I thoroughly enjoyed your 
30th anniversary issue and will 
keep it safe as a reminder of 
how far we have come. 

Incidentally, I recently enjoyed 
an exhibition of the historic 
development of computers at the 
top of La Grande Arche in La 



Defence, Paris, where they 
displayed examples of the 
earliest computers. 

Today, although I use a variety 
of PCs in my daily business, I still 
rely totally on a Psion 3MX for 
all my personal matters and 
immediately-to-hand information. 
It has been 1 00 per cent reliable, 
despite three serious drops. 

Switching between three 
agendas, 14 spreadsheets, five 
databases and three Word 
documents, it has never been 
beaten in terms of speed of access. 
Other software (Berlitz, Phrase, 
Wine, Dietary Analysis etc) 



CLARIFICATIONS & AMPLIFICATIONS 


• HPCM1015 


• What's on your desk? 


The price HP quoted for 


(March 2008) 


HP's CM1015 in our Colour 


In the Business feature 


Laser MFD group test 


about virtualisation, a 


(April 2008) was incorrect. 


misplaced full stop implied 


The correct price is £299. 


that Parallels had acquired 


As a result, the product's 


Softgrid. In fact, Microsoft 


Great Value award has been 


acquired Softgrid and 


rescinded. 


thereby achieved a 




presence in the application 


• Solwise Homeplug AV 


development arena for 


In our Solwise Homeplug 


virtualisation. 


AV review (April 2008), we 


In the same feature 


incorrectly stated transfer 


we misspelled the name 


speeds in Mbytes/sec 


of Clearcube's product 


instead of Mbits/sec. 


Sentral. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



21 



INTERACTIVE > letters 




Psion's 3MX 
was a popular 
and reliable 
personal 
organiser 



simply adds to the versatility of 
this serious previous world-beater 
- and it was British -de signed and 
made! An absolutely brilliant 
device - where next? Perhaps 
the nearest device is the latest 
Nokia Communicator? 
Keith Erskine 

IN THE FRAME 

I found your digital photo frame 
group test (PCW: April 2008) very 
interesting, but your article 
missed two key points. I have one 
of these picture frames, which is 
similar to the featured Cenomax, 
but without the remote control. 

It works well and is very 
satisfactory when viewed from 
a distance of one metre or greater. 
I reduce my photos in Paint 
Shop Pro to the optimum size of 
480x2 34 - some of my albums 
contain hundreds of photos, so I 
do them in batches of around 20. 
Then I put the reduced-size photo 
album on to a 256MB SD card 
and run the photo frame. 

The frame ignores the 
alphabetical or numerical 
sequencing, instead playing 
them back by what appears to be 
each photo's time stamp, thus 
throwing my holiday photos out 



Digital photo 
frames are a 
great way to 
show off your 
snaps, but 
they're not 
perfect 



of sequence. It also treats the 
albums in the same way. 

I tried renaming the photos 
within the albums after reducing 
the size, but it made no difference. 

Based on the fact that I should 
be able to get approximately 
7,000 resized photos on to a 
256MB SD card, another 
problem comes to light: if I 
switch the unit off overnight, 
it restarts at what it thinks is 
the first album again. 

The chances of getting 
through 7,000 photos in one day 
is limited, so I am unlikely to see 
the most recent additions to the 
Photo Frame shown unless I 
leave it on permanently going 
through its slideshow. 
Ron Hak 

Will Stapley replies: In answer to 
your first point, you could try 
editing each photo's Exifdata (the 
frame may be using the Exiftime 
stamp to order your photos). There 
are plenty of free Exif editors 
around - try the Quick Exif Editor 
(1ittp://tiny url.com/37l25pj. As for 
your second point, you may he better 
off having a selection of SD cards 
that you simply swap over every 
week or so. 



A SHORT HISTORY 
OF COMPUTING 

From 'Pacman to Pentium' {PCW, 
April 2008) was excellent reading 
and brought back many 
memories: I had completely 
forgotten about The Last One. 
I appreciate that the article 
was not intended to be a 
complete history of computing, 
but I was a little disappointed that 
two of my machines were not 
represented - one was the 
Ohio Scientific Challenger IP 
Here's to the next 30 years. 
Ivan Drake 

UPGRADE ISSUES 

Over the decades, I have regularly 
upgraded Windows and now 
Vista. The process has usually 
required some new hardware 
and sometimes I have run two 
machines during the transition to 
the new operating system - the 
old machine is then quickly 
pensioned off. But a year on this 
doesn't seem possible with Vista. 

I am not unhappy with it - 
Photoshop, music and video 
editing are faster on the 64-bit 
version with 4GB of memory, and 
I like the new interface. 

Initially, there were problems 
with Nvidia Ntunes and finding a 
wireless adapter that supported 
Vista 64, but these got sorted and 
eventually drivers came along for 
my Creative MP3 player, DVB-T 
USB dongle and other equipment. 
I needed a new webcam and still 
need a new modem, but many 
components are still not listed 
as Vista compatible. 

We can now attach countless 
peripherals to PCs - printers and 




scanners, cameras, graphics 
tablets, DVD recorders and even 
devices such as microscopes, all of 
which need to be supported when 
you upgrade or repace. 

My problems are with the 
Mustek A3 scanner and dedicated 
Acer slide scanner, neither of 
which work with Vista and are 
expensive to replace. 

I also use my PC to test 
equipment and software from 
clients as many are still running 
old systems, sometimes with 
serial interfaces, that Vista does 
not support. I can overcome some 
compatibility issues by using 
Virtual PC to run XP or earlier 
versions, but the lack of USB 
support limits this. With Vista, it 
looks as if I'll need to run two PCs 
for several years to come. 
Andy Scott 



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22 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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V Marketing nobbled my notebook 



gordonl@pcw.co.uk 



If your new computer doesn Y seem a quick as you 'd hoped you 
may need to give it a spring clean before blaming the hardware 



■ recently bought myself a Sony Vaio TZ- series 
laptop and was amazed at how a single 
product could result in such contrasting 
experiences. Physically it's everything I want 
from an ultraportable notebook: thin, light and 
sleek, with a superb screen and usable keyboard. 
To see it is to love it. But after powering up, the 
TZ could try the patience of a saint. Out of the 
box, its performance, frankly, sucks. 

On the surface the problem appears to be a 
resource-hungry OS running on under-powered 
hardware. Windows Vista certainly has a bad 
reputation, with many frustrated laptop owners 
campaigning for Windows XP drivers to be made 
available for those who wish to make the switch 
to something less demanding. Sony relented and, 
if you're interested, there are XP drivers for the 
TZ series on several of its websites. 

'Firing up Vista's Programs and Features 
Control Panel listed a considerable 96 items' 

But however much I've knocked Vista for its 
demanding nature and extolled the virtue of a 
nice, clean XP installation, something just didn't 
ring true. The Vaio TZ may not be the world's 
fastest notebook, but its hardware configuration is 
hardly poor. Even the cheapest model is equipped 
with a 1.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 1GB of 
Ram. Sure you can argue that Vista prefers 2GB 
and something quicker, but the TZ's core 
specification should be able to run Microsoft's 
latest OS just fine. So what's the real problem? 

One word: junk. It's been a long time since 
I've tested a retail PC bought directly from a store. 
I admit my notebook was bought in the US, but 
as it struggled to start up I was shocked by the 
amount of pre-installed junk. Junk masquerading 
as valuable enhancements had turned a perfectly 
usable laptop into what appeared to be a woefully 
under-powered system. 

The warning signs were plain to see on its 
desktop with no fewer than 10 shortcuts to 
promote various offers. Sony's infamous for 
self-promotion, but surely preloading both the 
Spiderman 1 and 2 movies on a new notebook 
with a shortcut to 'unlock' them for a fee is a bit 



rich. Besides, if Sony saw it as an entertainment 
laptop, why install Vista Business? 

My Vaio also had AOL and Sprint Wireless 
trials, a Microsoft Office tryout, and my personal 
bugbear, two months worth of Norton Internet 
Security - just long enough for most owners to 
become reliant and feel obliged to make a 
purchase when it expires. Then there was Corel 
Paint Shop Pro, Corel Snapfire, Napster and more 
besides. Firing up Vista's Programs and Features 
Control Panel listed a considerable 96 items. 
Remember this was a machine that had just been 
switched on for the very first time. 

It took more than six minutes before the Vaio 
was ready to use, and a minute and a half to shut 
down. All this software is pre-installed to give 
the impression of value, but most of it is little 
more than trials and adverts. How much do 
manufacturers get paid to pre-install these trials? 

No wonder so many Vaio TZ owners have 
been vocal on forums about their disappointment, 
either returning them as unusable or taking the 
considerable effort to install XP instead. But Vista 
or modest hardware wasn't the problem. Over- 
zealous marketing was. 

While I was tempted to wipe my Vaio clean 
and start from scratch, I uninstalled the trials and 
unwanted programs, then reduced the startup 
items from a whopping 26 to eight essentials. This 
reduced the startup time to a minute and a half. 

This was now the machine I'd ordered and one 
I was satisfied with - it even felt pretty quick. But 
I wonder about others who buy a computer and 
just accept its performance out the box. Maybe 
my US -based Vaio was a particularly bad offender, 
but trials and unnecessary startup items plague 
most new retail computers. 

So if your new computer doesn't seem as 
quick as you hoped, don't immediately blame a 
modest hardware spec or Vista. Before upgrading 
any hardware or considering downgrading your 
OS, take a look at your installed programs and 
startup items. Just because it's brand new doesn't 
mean you won't have some spring cleaning to do. 

If you do finally decide an OS downgrade is 
the only answer, check out this month's Hands 
On Hardware column on page 138 to see how I 
got on with XP on my Vaio TZ. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



25 



INTERACTIVE > straight talking 




Even seasoned hacks aren't immune from the odd rude 
awakening via the internet, as Barry Fox discovers 



We are continually warned to install PC 
protection, keep it up to date and set 
Windows to install critical patches. I do 
all this and more. My friends think me 
boringly over-aware of internet dangers. But I 
have twice recently had nasty wake -up calls. 

I noticed some £8 monthly withdrawals from 
my credit card, identified as 'Shopdisc'. Initially I 
put this down to CDs and DVDs bought through 
Amazon from third-party suppliers. But during 
some months I had bought no discs. 

I typed 'Shopdisc' into Google and found many 
posts from people who were paying £8 a month, 
usually after buying flowers or printed cards. But 
I hadn't bought any flowers or cards. 

The credit card entries gave a number, which 
turned out to be a phone number for 
'shopperdiscountsandrewards'. The first time I 



'I shall never again dare to click ''Yes'' to an 
online cashback offer, which is a shame' 



called, a recorded announcement directed me to a 
website that referred me back to the phone 
number and linked to a 'cancel centre', which 
required a password that I did not know. 

I started a Retailer Dispute process through my 
credit card company, which got the subscription 
cancelled and my payments refunded. The card 
company had received similar calls from others, so 
I phoned the UK Government's Office of Fair 
Trading. A press office spokeswoman said the OFT 
was "aware" of consumer complaints but "wasn't 
investigating". So I spent many hours trawling 
through old emails, spam traps and printouts of 
online transactions to establish how the company 
had got my authorisation to take £8 a month. 

The audit trail led back to my purchase of 
display software from an online retailer. During the 
purchase process I had clicked 'yes' to the offer of a 
£10 voucher against future purchases. 

A printout of the order shows the promise: 
"we will not pass your details onto third parties". 

More printouts made during the transaction 
show links to 'one-time-offer.com', which gave me 
a printable voucher for "£10 cashback" on "any 
purchase" from the retailer (within three months). 



I had missed a note at paragraph 28, near the 
end of three pages of verbiage. This note advised: 
"if you are 100 per cent satisfied during your trial, 
do nothing. All your Shopper Discounts & 
Rewards discounts and protection will 
automatically continue for just £8 a month, billed 
by Shopper Discounts & Rewards to the credit or 
debit card you authorised." 

I then found emails from Shopper Discounts and 
Rewards, including a password, which had been 
discarded as spam. One was headed "Your £10 Cash 
Back Voucher towards your next purchase". 

Another referred in the first paragraph to 
"your £10 Cash Back Voucher towards your next 
purchase," but then at around paragraph 24 used 
the same key words: "if you are satisfied during 
your trial, do nothing..." 

Another had the key phrase in the eighth of 
nine paragraphs, "if you are completely 
satisfied... simply do nothing..." 

So all along the onus had been on me to 
receive and carefully read the emails, and act to 
cancel my participation in the scheme. 

I tried to contact the retailer but the company 
was rejecting emails to its Support address, blaming 
"the vast number of spam and spoofed virus 
messages" and insisting that "all contact is now 
made through our online ticket system". But this 
offered only a checklist of complaints and queries 
that did not cover the one I wanted to raise - why 
have you shared my credit card details with a third 
party, despite assuring "we will not pass your 
details onto third parties"? 

I sent the full audit trail to the Office of Fair 
Trading press office but after two weeks and a 
reminder, I've heard nothing back. The scheme 
appears to be in use by many well-known 
shopping sites, including "Currys, Marks & 
Spencer, Asda, PC World and more", according to 
the Shopper Discounts & Rewards UK site. 

I am now more wary of buying software 
online, which is a pity. I shall never again dare to 
click 'yes' to an online cashback offer, which is 
also a pity. And when I tell next month how I 
discovered that at least one big-name ISP is 
exposing its subscribers to hacking risks, I shan't 
waste time even trying to talk to the OFT quango. 
What would be the point? PCW 



26 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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DeviceLock is a flexible and full-featured solution 
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Windows Mobile personal devices. 

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KEWNEYOLARGE < INTERACTIVE 




ewne 



Intelligent and nicely Phormed 

Smart, intuitive and targeted advertising may he the only M/ay 
to get people to actually read the adverts that pop up on screen 



My pleasure at the imminent arrival of 
my new PC - a Spider family AMD 
box - is somewhat tempered by the 
realisation that it may not be powerful 
enough. In the real world, no computer is ever 
powerful enough, as I discovered last week, when 
my dual-core 64-bit Athlon slowed to less than a 
crawl - and not for the first time. 

I opened up Task Manager to see what was 
doing it and found it was running an internet 
browser using 99 per cent of CPU time. I was 
surprised. I should have known. We've known 
since the first computers appeared that however 
much CPU power you provide, you will run 
software that uses it all. Double the power, and 
you'll find twice as much software: it's a law. It 
also applies to bandwidth and memory, of course. 
But as of three years ago, it really started to look 



"However much CPU power you provide, 
you will run software that uses it all' 



as if the hardware people, with dual- core 
processors, multi-gigabyte memory and Gigabit 
Ethernet, had got ahead of the software providers. 
And I haven't even been loading all that much 
software. Had someone else loaded software on to 
my PC? Why... yes - the advertising industry had. 

Every time you see one of those smart 
animated Flash displays at the top of a web page, 
your computer is working away to make the little 
images move. Every script loaded with your web 
page makes work for your computer. 

Personally, I don't see this as an invasion of 
my privacy. Quite the opposite: if someone can 
find a way to send me advertising only for things 
I actually want, I'd see this as a premium service. 
I don't want to buy chocolate, teen rock music, 
nail varnish or Carling lager. If you can monitor 
my web surfing and restrict yourself to advertising 
fast sailing boats, clarinet repair services, classical 
music, high-tech toy updates and garden supplies, 
why, I might actually read the ads. 

But that's not what the advertisers are doing. 
Instead, they are downloading adverts by the 
dozen. If you doubt me, I can point you at a 
particular website and you can count them. My 



machine tripped up when I made the mistake of 
going to a Fox News website. Try 'Fox business' 
and then poke around in Firefox, with Adblock 
installed. You'll be astonished. I went through 
one page there and discovered 43 script files, four 
iFrames, two web beacon images, three Flash files 
and 153 files downloading in the background. 

Nothing wrong with my PC at all, it turns out. 
You could give us all desktop supercomputers, 
and, within two years, some clever ISP would 
have discovered a load of Javascript and Flash 
and other background operations made possible 
by all that power, and would be charging 
advertisers for the privilege of providing it to us. 

So, Phorm. Remember the excitement recently 
when it was discovered that BT and various other 
ISPs were using Phorm services to spy on user 
web surfing? If you care to dig into the history of 
that scandal, you'll discover an interesting fact: 
the real reason Phorm became an issue goes back 
to July 2007, when a system manager discovered 
that his systems were running slowly. 
Investigating the reasons for this slowdown 
uncovered the proxy server that Phorm installed 
on BT internet systems: BT's support department 
then revealed this was an experiment. 

If BT had simply said: "We're doing some 
proxy tests to do with adverts", and if Phorm had 
produced sharp, efficient code that ran on their 
own servers, the issue would never have come 
up. Indeed, Phorm was actually endorsed by 
Privacy International as privacy- friendly. 

But what happened was that Phorm's 
programmers wrote code that was bloated and 
slow, and took the view that there's plenty of 
power on all those user systems, causing a major 
panic for a competent systems manager who 
suspected that machines had been hijacked. 

Really, the future is Adblock. If we buy ultra- 
powerful multi-core PCs and allow other people 
to decide what software we run and what files we 
download, they will soon swallow up all the 
power we've created and, once again, task 
managers will show 'CPU utilisation 94%' and 
we'll complain how slow modern PCs are. 

What this means for advertising is another 
story, but I'm not using my electricity to subsidise 
lazy coding by greedy ad purveyors any more. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



29 



J 



HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND 



The evolution 
of broadband 



2008 is supposed to be the year superfast broadband arrives in 
the UK. Nigel Whitfield takes a look at the harsh reality 



We've been waiting a 
long time for it, but is 
the next generation of 
internet access finally 
upon us? With BT 
trialling fibre -optic connections to the home, 
cable offering up to 50Mbits/sec download 
speeds, and all the mobile networks 
competing to provide broadband on the 
go, has the UK finally got a network ready 
for the 21st century? Or is the fastest 
access available not to the many, but just 
a few? 

PCW has been looking at the state of 
broadband in the UK regularly over the past 
few years, seeing how things have changed. 



and looking at what's on offer from the 
major ISPs. In this round-up, we take a look 
at what's really changing - and explore some 
of the reasons for the state we're in. 

Too good to be true? 

Imagine - you move into your new 
apartment and there's an Ethernet socket 
waiting in the living room; plug in your PC, 
work through the automated sign-up process, 
and a few minutes later you have a 
25Mbits/sec connection, with 5Mbits/sec 
upload bandwidth. Or perhaps you've chosen 
a new home that comes complete with a 
fibre -optic connection, with the possibility of 
HDTV as well as high-speed internet access. 




And on the move, your laptop can download 
at over 7Mbits/sec, for a cost that not so 
long ago wouldn't even have bought you a 
512Kbits/sec ADSL connection. 

Can this really be Broadband Britain in 
2008? The answer is yes - provided you live 
in the right place. Nevertheless, it's a 
welcome sign the state of internet 
connectivity is beginning to improve, if not at 



Moving on up to IPv6 

"The world is running out of internet 
addresses! We won't be able to add any 
more computers to it!" You might have heard 
that cry before. Last time round, it was fixed 
by the introduction of a new way of 
assigning addresses, called CIDR, that means 
an organisation can just be given eight IP 
addresses if that's all it needs, or 512 - rather 
than either 256, or 65,536. And CIDR has 
helped the internet carry on with its current 
core traffic protocol, Internet Protocol v4 
(IPv4), for longer than some imagined. Most 
home users, and many companies, now use 
Nat (network address translation) to give 
them private addresses on their own 
networks, conserving public addresses 
even more. 

But, as one of the internet's founding 
fathers, Vint Cerf, warned last year, sooner or 
later we're going to have to upgrade. That 
upgrade is to IPv6, a protocol designed some 
years ago, but still waiting to find widespread 
use. In February 2008, the internet's core 




name-servers - the systems that turn a name 
like www.pcw.co.uk into an IP address - finally 
had IPv6 addresses added to them. It's a 
small but significant step; before then, if a 
computer running IPv6 wanted to look up a 
domain name globally, rather than on a 
private network, it would have to send its 
request via the old IPv4 protocol. 

So, with the name servers working for 
IPv6, and major operating systems ready - 
Linux, BSD, Vista and Mac OSX all support it 
- is IPv6 ready for prime-time? 



As Vint Cerf warned last year, 
sooner or later the internet is 
going to need to move from 
IPv4 to IPv6 

Not yet; outside trials, 
there's still not much 
widespread deployment of 
IPv6, though it has been 
mandated for US federal 
agencies this year, and other 
organisations around the 
world are likely to follow. 
So far, the number of IP networks running 
IPv6 is less than five per cent. 

So, in the short term, home users don't 
need to worry; if you have to buy new kit, 
make sure it's ready for IPv6, but there's no 
need to throw anything out for a few years 
yet. If you do want to experiment, however, 
some ISPs such as Andrews & Arnold 
(www.aa.gg) offer IPv6 as an option now. 

For a technical background on IPv6, go to 
http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/IPv6.ars 
and the IPv6 Taskforce is at www.ipv6tf.org. 



30 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND 




the same speed for everyone. There's more 
good news, in that the state of the 
infrastructure is finally starting to be 
considered a national issue, not just one for 
the individual companies involved. So, how 
is broadband in the UK changing, and when 
will it start to affect you? 

New technologies 

The last time PCW looked at broadband in the 
UK {PCW, May 2007), we talked about the 
roll-out of BT's 21st Century Network 
(21CN) - and parts of that are now live, 
offering the same type of ADSL2-I- 
24Mbits/sec broadband connection in a 
Birmingham trial that other operators have 
offered via Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) in 
other areas. The 21CN project is the 
wholesale replacement of the ageing 
voice-centric circuit- switched telephone 
network, where data piggybacks on voice 
traffic, to a new data-centric packet-switched 
network based on the Internet Protocol (IP), 
with voice treated as just another form of 
data. It's a major development that will affect 
how voice and data traffic is handled 
throughout the UK. 

By the time you read this, the trial 
will be more or less over, and as the 
rollout of 21CN continues around the 
UK, any ISP that resells BT's service will 
be able to offer the higher speeds. But, of 
course, to an extent, while the extra speed 
offered by 2 1 CN will be welcome to many 
broadband users, it's not exactly new. If you 
can't wait for BT to upgrade your local 
exchange, some of the LLU providers may 



help - 02 -owned Be (www.bethere.co.uk), for 

example, has announced a rollout of more 
exchanges that it says will provide coverage 
to 67 per cent of the UK population, 
including sites in Wales and Northern 
Ireland, which haven't always fared so well 
in the broadband stakes. 

There are, however, some more 
interesting developments. Internet provider 
Ask4 (www.ask4.com) is presently boasting the 
UK's fastest broadband, with a 25Mbits/sec 
service that's delivered simply as an Ethernet 
point in some new apartment buildings. Plug 
in, sign up and - for £60 per month - you'll 
have a high-speed connection. There are 
slower speed options too, with a 2Mbits/sec 
connection coming in at £25 per month - 
and since the service is delivered over 
Ethernet, there's no BT line rental to pay on 
top of it. But this service is so far only 
available in a few apartment blocks and some 
student residences. 




In a fibre network an Optical Network 
Terminal takes the place of the broadband 
modem we're used to 



So what about the rest of us? If you're in 
a Virgin Media cable area, there's good news 
too; the cable provider has been trialling an 
upgrade in Folkestone, Ashford and Dover 
that will provide download speeds of up to 
50Mbits/sec, with a wider rollout anticipated 
this summer - though as ever, those who 
take advantage of the higher-speed 
connection to download loads of data at peak 
hours are likely to find their usage capped or 
their bandwidth throttled. 

A more interesting development, with 
potential for widespread high-speed net 
connections, is the first few experiments in 
Next Generation Access, or NGA. 
Improvements such as BT's 21CN are aimed 
at helping the core of the phone network 
improve, making it possible to bring higher 
speeds to the local exchange. NGA is 
about improving that last link, from the 
exchange to the home or office, usually 
by replacing some or all of it with a 
fibre -optic link. 

Two acronyms you'll hear a lot about in 
this context are FTTH (fibre to the 
home) and FTTC (fibre to the 
cabinet, also sometime referred to 
as fibre to the kerb). The first of 
those is pretty self-explanatory - the 
connection into your home will be by 
a fibre -optic cable, providing much 
faster speeds than other connection 
methods. And it's not science fiction - at a 
new development in Kent called Ebbsfleet 
Valley (www.ebbsfleetvalley.co.uk) BT has 
committed to a trial where 10,000 new 
homes will have direct-fibre connections. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



31 



HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND 



providing them with lOOMbits/sec 
connections. Pricing is yet to be set, but the 
system is due to go live in August this year - 
and it's something that could be rolled out in 
future to other new-build developments. But 
as BT told us, it doesn't anticipate huge 
amounts of internet data being downloaded - 
in its view there aren't that many compelling 
uses for such a fast connection right now. 
Instead, it thinks the main use will be for 
delivering things such as high -definition TV, 
with a lOOMbits/sec pipe allowing several 
different HD streams to be viewed in 
different rooms simultaneously. At the 
home a device called an Optical Network 
Terminal (ONT) connects to the fibre, and, 
as well as an Ethernet connection for data, 
can provide other connections for telephone 
and video services. 

Sadly, while FTTH is a great technology 
(as we explain in the box 'Korea can', right) 
there are problems that mean it can't be used 
everywhere in the UK. In many cases, 
though, FTTC is an attractive alternative. In 
this system, the links to the local junction 
boxes - those familiar, green street cabinets - 
are replaced by fibre, bringing the high-speed 
connection much closer to the home, and 
making possible something known as VDSL, 

High-speed broadband isn't just about the 
internet. BT envisages much of the capacity being 
used for entertainment services, such as its BT 
Vision offering 



Korea can. Why can't we? 




Take a look around online, and you'll often 
find people pointing out that other countries 
have cheaper and faster internet provision 
than the UK - and it's true. But, sadly, that 
doesn't mean we can necessarily have the 
same, and there are some important factors 
that are often overlooked. 

In many parts of Europe, cable television is 
more prevalent, and passes more than 90 per 
cent of homes, giving easier access to the 
network and greater economies of scale. In the 
UK, the comparable figure is 50 per cent - and 
the cable industry has only come together as 
one in the past two years, after starting out as 
a huge patchwork of organisations; on the 
continent, consolidation happened sooner. 

But cable's not the only reason - it turns 
out that two of our key British obsessions also 



or Very High Speed DSL. Essentially, this is a 
variant of the ADSL and SDSL that most 
users are used to, but since it's running over 
much shorter cables, far higher speeds can be 
reached, up to 
around 50Mbits/sec. 



Investment 
problem 

Fibre is 

undoubtedly one of 
the most future- 
proof ways of 
delivering 
connectivity at the 



Ask 4 

Be 

Bulldog 

Newnet 

02 

Sky Broadband 

UK Online 

Virgin Media 



Mers offering at least 16Mbits/sec download speed 



count against us in the broadband stakes - 
houses and mortgages. Places such as Korea, 
where just about everyone who wants it can 
have blisteringly fast broadband aren't like 
the UK. With our old housing stock and 
dislike of living in flats, 80 per cent of British 
properties are houses (according to the Office 
for National Statistics). 

In London there are more purpose-built 
flats, but it's still only 32 per cent. Compare 
that with Seoul, where flats were just four per 
cent of housing in 1970, but had grown to 
53 per cent by 2006. Installing a high-speed 
link to an apartment block means one fibre 
can serve hundreds of homes, rather than 
just the one that would be the case for a 
typical house, or a handful for a small 
converted house. 



moment - but there's a potential problem. BT 
Openreach, which owns the network, is a 
privatised company, like the rest of BT. 
As such, it's expected to create a return for 
its shareholders. 

Under the current regulations, though, if 
BT rolls out a new service on its network, 
then it'll be expected to make it available 
wholesale to all comers - so just as any ISP 
that resells BT's ADSL service will be able to 
resell services on the 21CN network later this 
year, so they'll be able to resell any services 
built on a future BT FTTH network. And 
that's just what will happen around August 
in Ebbsfleet. 



PACKAGE 

Residential 25 Meg"" 

Be unlimited 
Unlimited Plus 
Home SO ND 
Ultimate broadband 
Broadband Max 
Up to 22MB Broadband 
Broadband Size:XL 



CONTACT DETAILS 

www.ask4.com, 0845 123 8710 

www.bethere.co.uk, 0808 234 8566 
www.bulldogbroadband.com, 0800 107 5910 
www.newnet.co.uk, 0845 684 0684 
http://broadband.o2.co.uk 
http://bmadband.sky.com/, 08442 410 285 
www.ukonline.net, 0800 0530606 
www.virginmedia.com, 0845 840 7777 



MONTHLY FEE 


LINE RENTAL 


SETUP FEE 


MAX SPEED 


£60 


None 


Free 


25Mbits/sec 


£22 


£113 


£24 


24Mbits/sec 


£24.50 


£10.50 


£30 


16Mbits/sec 


£29.95 


£113 


Free 


24Mbits/sec 


£25 


£1l3 


£15 


20Mbits/sec 


£105 


£1l3 


£30 


16Mbits/sec 


£24.99 


£113 


Free 


22Mbits/sec 


£37 


None - cable 


£25 


20Mbits/sec 




High-speed data via 3G mobile networks, monthly 'unlimited' contract H 


ISP 


PACKAGE 


CONTACT DETAILS 


MONTHLY 
FEE 


CARD 
COST 


MAX SPEED 


INCLUSIVE/FAIR CONTRACT LENGTH 
USE DATA WITH FREE MODEM 


SERVICES — ■ 
BUNDLED 1 


02 


Web max 


www.o2.co.uk, 
0800 089 0202 


£29.38 


Free 


1.4Mbits/sec 


3GB 12 months 


30 mins Wifi 
per month 


Orange 


Business Everywhere 
Unlimited 


www.business.orange.co.uk, 
0800 079 4000 


£29.38 


Free 


7.2Mbits/sec 


3GB 18 months 


250 mins Wifi 
per month 


Three 


Broadband Max 


www.three.co.uk 


£25.00 


Free 


2.8Mbits/sec 


7GB 12 months 




T-Mobile 


Web'n'Walk Max 


www.t-mobile.co.uk, 
0845 412 2303 


356 


Free 


1.8Mbits/sec 


10GB 24 months 


Unlimited(30GB) 
Wifi access 


Vodafone 


Mobile Broadband 
Business 


www.vodafone.co.uk 


£29.37 


Free 


7.2Mbits/sec 


5GB 18 months 





32 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




J 



HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND 



And our desire to own properties makes 
things complicated too; it's much easier to 
install high-speed broadband services, such 
as those from Ask4, at the construction 
stage, along with all the other utilities, but 
our slow rate of building means that's only 
just starting to happen. And while you can 
install connections as part of a 
refurbishment, as Ask4's Jonathan Burrows 
explained: "That's much easier when the 
whole building is owned by one company. 
Otherwise you have to make a separate 
legal agreement with each occupier." 

So, while it may well be true that some 
countries are doing better than we are when 
it comes to provision of high-speed 
broadband, it's sadly not an issue that can 
be looked at in purely technical terms. 



For BT - and for the rest of the country - 
this presents a thorny problem. What's the 
incentive for BT to invest billions of pounds 
upgrading the local network to fibre when it 
will have to allow other companies to come 
in and profit off the back of that investment? 
It won't be a small investment either, with 
some figures suggesting £10bn for fibre to the 
local cabinets, which would support VDSL, 
and £15bn for fibre to the home. 

It's an issue on which Ofcom consulted 
last year, and the Government has even 
suggested it may be necessary to provide 
public investment to prevent the UK from 
being left behind. 



In some parts of the UK, investment in 
broadband is already coming from the public 
sector, with projects such as Nynet 
(www.nynet.co.uk) in North Yorkshire 
providing services to other public-sector 
organisations via a fibre -core network, with 
a mixture of DSL and fibre, and some 
wireless links planned for more remote areas, 
South Yorkshire has a similar project, called 
Digital Region; both benefit from 
development funding from central 
government and the EU. But that funding's 
only available in certain areas. 

So, until the broader issue of who will 
upgrade the whole of the UK's local 
network is solved, it looks like fibre to the 
home, or to the local 
cabinet, is likely to 
be something found 
principally in newly 
built developments. 
The rest of us will 
have to soldier on with 
our copper wires or 
cable modem 
connections. 

And, of course, if 
we're to have high- 
speed internet access, 
investment isn't just 

The fastest broadband 
connections are likely to 
appear only in new 
buildings, like the 
Ebbsfleet trial, pictured, 
where installation is 
more cost-effective 



needed in the 'access' section of the network. 
As we've already seen, BT's upgrading its 
whole network as part of the 21CN project, 
but individual ISPs have to invest in internet 
capacity too - and as the connections into the 
home get faster and faster, there's an ever- 
increasing likelihood of a difference between 
what it's theoretically possible to send to 
your home, and what you'll see when you're 
surfing - see The bandwidth gap' box 
overleaf for more on this. 

Congestion and consolidation 

The bandwidth gap is one problem facing 
ISPs and their users, but it's not the only one. 
Many people feel their internet connection 




^^^^^^^™ ^^^ ^^ 




MONTHLY CAP 


SUPPORT HOURS/COST 


CONTRACT LENGTH 


EQUIPMENT INCLUDED 


SERVICES BUNDLED COST OF CALL OPTION 


INCLUSIVE CALLS | 




Unlimited^ 


8am-10pm, 10am-9pm 
weekends, 0845 


1 month 


None 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited^ 


24 hour, Free 


3 months 


Wireless muter 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited 


9am-8pm, Free 


12 months 


Modem 


LLU Telephone £12 for UK unlimited 


To Bullgdog customers 




Unlimited^ 


6am-10pm, 9-5 Sat, 0845 


3 months 


None 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited^ 


24 hour. Free 


12 months 


Wireless muter 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited^ 


24 Hour, 0870 


12 Months 


Wireless muter 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited^ 


24 Hour, 0845 


12 months 


None 


None N/A 


N/A 




Unlimited 


24 Hour, 0845 


12 months 


Modem 


None N/A 


N/A 



High-speed data via non 


■contract 3G mobile networks 




MMI 


IHV 


■ 


ISP PACKAGE 


CONTACT DETAILS 


PERIOD 


COST 


DATA LIMIT 


CARD COST 


1 


Orange Business Everywhere Daily 


www.business.orange.co.uk, 0800 079 4000 


Daily 


£8.23 


1GB 


£57.57 




Three Broadband Lite 


www.three.co.uk 


30 days 


£10.00 


1GB7 


£99.99 




T-Mobile Web'n'Walk Plus Daily 


www.t-mobile.co.uk, 0845 412 2303 


Daily 


£4.00 


1GB 


£99.99 




Vodafone Mobile Broadband Business 24 


www.vodafone.co.uk 


Daily 


£9.99 


500MB 


£175 





NOTES: 1. Availability limited to a few residential developments; see website. 2. Unspecified limit, 'excessive use' not permitted. 
3. Standard BT line rental BT line required. 4. Unlimited off peak (0200-0700), 25GB rest of month, additional 70p per GB. 
5. Subscription to Sky TV is also required, £25 additional per month. 6. £44 per month for 12-month contract. 
7. 7GB available for £25 per 30 days additional data lOp/MB. General note: Prices do not include introductory offers. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



33 



HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND 



just isn't as fast as it should be. With many 
people on services that promise 'Up to' a 
certain speed, the reality is that most users 
receive far from the maximum. A survey in 
January by website Broadband Expert logged 
around 18,500 speed tests, with an average 
of 2.95Mbits/sec. 

Of course, the headline speeds quoted for 
DSL services are based on short links to the 
exchange, and the speed falls off the longer 
the wire you're connected to - but most 
ISPs fail to explain that all but a few people 
will get much slower speeds than the 
headline figures in the ads. It's an issue 
that prompted a campaign in 2007 by 
PCW's sister magazine Computer active 
(www.computeractive.co.uk/campaign) . Largely 
as a result of this campaign and the 
accompanying petition to the Government, 
Ofcom is now considering whether or not 



broadband now in the hands of a relatively 
small number of players, including BT, Tiscali 
and Carphone Warehouse. Even brands that 
many considered a cut above the rest in the 
past are now part of much larger outfits, 
often losing the personal touch and technical 
expertise that made them popular choices for 
the more technical user. Pipex, one of the 
first ISPs in the UK, has now been subsumed 
into Tiscali, for example, and many of its 
users have expressed concern at being moved 
over to the latter's LLU service. Smaller 
outfits, such as Nildram, had already been 
taken over by Pipex and are now essentially 
just a brand for marketing. 

While you might hope that larger ISPs 
would benefit from economies of scale 
and be able to invest in greater bandwidth 
for their users, sadly that's not always 
the case. 



'Brands that many considered a cut above the 
rest in the past are now part of much larger 
outfits, often losing the personal touch' 



there should be guidelines put in place for 
broadband advertising, in line with the 
proposals from Computeractive. 

But it's not just the issue of raw line speed 
that's causing problems. As one ISP that we 
spoke with pointed out, early adopters of 
broadband might have been told they had a 
50:1 contention ratio on their line, but with 
relatively few people connected, they often 
enjoyed much better performance than that. 
As more people have switched to broadband, 
enticed by lower prices, contention is 
becoming an issue once more - especially 
with the rapid growth of services such as the 
BBC's iPlayer. 

Consolidation in the industry is having an 
effect too, with the bulk of the UK's 




As we were told by one smaller ISP, with 
the UK's broadband market being taken over 
largely by big firms competing on price and 
offering bundles that include telephony too, 
there's a race to grab market share at 
whatever cost - and that may not leave 
much cash for investing in things such as 
Next Generation Access or upgrading 
external bandwidth. As many readers will 
agree, it hasn't left much left to invest in 
technical support or quality of service. 

While a very few ISPs do aim to sell on 
speed, or quality of service, the larger players 
are concentrating on convergence - 
providing services such as BT's Vision, with 
TV via the broadband connection, or Unique 
from Orange, where a special mobile phone 
can switch to making 
calls via the broadband 
link when you're at 
home. There are clear 
advantages to both 
these types of idea - 
video content can be 
provided from within 
the ISP, reducing the 
need for external 
bandwidth, and 
telephony doesn't use 
up much capacity 

A bandwidth-hungry 
services such as the BBC 
i Player grow, many users 
are starting to find 
that congestion and 
contention are becoming 
a problem 



The bandwidth gap 

As users clamour for faster broadband, 
ISPs are starting to have a problem on 
their hands. Already some have made a 
fuss about the BBC iPlayer, and the 
amount of capacity that it's consuming, 
and things can only get worse from here. 

Contention isn't something we hear 
about too much these days, but it's going 
to bite with a vengeance. Many ISPs have 
kept ahead of the game so far, investing in 
bandwidth as common speeds have crept 
up from 512Kbits/sec to 1 Mbit/sec, then 
2Mbits/sec. But going from there to the 
24Mbits/sec of ADSL2+, or the 
50Mbits/sec and higher that fibre might 
offer is a different proposition - especially 
when you consider the ISP has to buy 
uncontended bandwidth to share between 
all its customers. 

Ultimately, there's a big problem - 
even with 50:1 contention, an ISP with 
10,000 users each with a 50Mbits/sec 
connection needs lOGbits/sec of 
bandwidth to keep them all happy - 
and that's a real issue, both technically 
and economically. 

So, as end-user speeds creep up, ISPs 
will have to either raise their prices, or look 
at providing a lot of content from within 
their own networks. For many, that's 
going to take the form of video on 
demand, HDTV and similar services. 
Expect the emphasis not to be on the raw 
speed of the internet connection you have 
available - even if you have 50Mbits/sec, 
you're not going to find many servers that 
will let you download at that speed, when 
they're coping with other people too - but 
on the ability of the connection to 
seamlessly provide you with 
entertainment, telephone and similar 
services at the same time as you're 
browsing or downloading. 



either - and both have a high perceived 
value to the customer. As the market 
consolidates more, it's likely that broadband 
connections will be sold on the number of 
things - video, VoIP (Voice over IP), seamless 
roaming, Wifi access - included, rather than 
on speed alone. 

A typical small ISP that spoke to 
PCW, Wizards (www.wizards.co.ul<), told us 
that while there's still a market for ISPs that 
can do more bespoke solutions, or offer 
better handholding, it's not an easy one - 
and without other services such as 
consultancy to offer, your business plan is 
often at the mercy of BT and the way it 
prices its wholesale services. Remarkably, 
Wizards told us that for the first time in ^ 



34 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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years it has started to be asked about leased 
lines by their customers. 

Before the days of widespread DSL, a 
leased line was a typical way for a small 
business to connect to the net - but it could 
cost hundreds of pounds a month for even a 
64Kbits/sec link. These days, it's rather 
cheaper, but you could still spend around 
£4,000 per year on a one megabit 
connection, giving you guaranteed 
bandwidth and - most importantly for some 
businesses that have suffered long and 
expensive failures of ADSL and SDSL services 
- a service level agreement (SLA) guarantee, 
that won't leave you without a connection 
for days or weeks. 

We'd be interested to hear from readers 
whose ISP has been bought out by a larger 
outfit, and whether your service changed as a 
result - email us at letters@pcw.co.uk. 

Mobile broadband 

When we last looked at mobile broadband 

{PCW, December 2007, www.pcw.co.uk/ 

2201214), 3 had just announced its new 

service, and while both Vodafone 

and T-Mobile had data 

packages, the 

cheapest of them 

only just scraped in 

under the £30 mark - 

three times as much as 

the most basic offering from 

3. 02 and Orange, meanwhile, stood out for 

monstrously uncompetitive rates on data. 

As we predicted at the time, things would 
only get better and most of the networks 
have reduced their prices - all except 02 
now offer mobile broadband packages with a 
3GB data allowance for £15 per month. 02 - 
perhaps hoping to wow people with the 
iPhone instead - offers a 'Webmax' tariff with 
3 GB of fair usage for double the price, with a 
USB modem that's more than twice the size 



Going underground 

One of the biggest problems faced by 
companies such as BT is the sheer cost of 
laying new cable. Digging up streets is 
expensive, and can cause widespread traffic 
chaos. So it's no wonder the latest 
technologies are going into new-build 
schemes such as Ebbsfleet Valley. But one 
company thinks it may have an attractive 
alternative for installing fibre to many 
locations in the UK. 

H20 networks has developed a system 
that uses the existing sewers as a conduit 
for fibres, breaking out into ducts close to 
buildings for the final section of the link. It 
means that, especially in cities, there's no 

By using the sewer network, H20 can install 
fibre networks quickly and much more cheaply 
than by digging up the road 



disruptive work in the streets, and the links 
can be installed quickly. Already there are 
systems up and running in Aberdeen, 
Bournemouth and Edinburgh, and 
residential ISP Ask4 is also using it for parts 
of its network. 
• H20 Networks www.focuss.net. 





Almost all the UK's 
mobile networks 
now provide 
reasonably priced 
access via compact 
USB modems 

networks are working on expanding their 
coverage, if you want something to while 
away the evenings on a visit back home from 
the big city, you'll find coverage is still patchy, 
and that, rather than price, may determine 
the network you'll have to use. Also worth 
watching out for is HSUPA support, which all 
the networks should have to some degree by 
the end of this year - it boosts the upload 
speed to as much as 1.4Mbits/sec. 

Another welcome bit of news is if you 
don't want to be tied to a contract, you don't 
have to be ripped off, either. Orange, 



'Be careful if you roam - remember the widely 
publicised case of the chap who ended up with an 
£11,000 bill for a mobile download of a TV show' 



of compact models available from other 
networks. 

When it comes to speed, Vodafone and 
Orange both claim speeds of 'up to' 
7.2Mbits/sec, with 3 claiming 2.8Mbits/sec. 
But it all depends on exactly where you are 
in the UK; even on the networks that offer 
higher speeds, it's worth checking coverage 
carefully before parting with your cash - 
especially as the best prices are often for 18- 
or 24-month contracts. You may very often 
find that speeds will drop back to 
1.4Mbits/sec or even lower. While most of the 



T-Mobile and Vodafone all have 'daily' tariffs, 
where you just pay when you use the 
modem; Orange charge £8.23 for a day's 
access, with a 1GB download limit, and £58 
for the USB modem. On T-Mobile you'll pay 
£99.99 for the modem, and £4 per day for 
1GB, while Vodafone charge £175 for its USB 
modem and £9.99 for a day, with a 500MB 
download cap. 3 offers a slightly different 
pricing structure based on top-up vouchers, 
where you pay £99.99 for the modem and 
then for £10 you can buy 30 days' pay as you 
go access, with 1GB over the 30-day period. 



If you need mobile access for a few days at 
a time, it can be cheaper than the 
alternatives - and it'll include roaming on 
3 networks in Ireland, Austria, Italy and 
Hong Kong - but heavy users might prefer 
the per-day limits and charges of the other 
networks. But whatever option you choose, 
be careful if you roam abroad: remember 
the widely publicised case of the chap who 
ended up with an £1 1,000 bill for a mobile 
download of a TV show, due to the 
download resuming while he was on a 
business trip in Germany, where he incurred 
a £4.99 per MB roaming charge. 

Where next for Broadband Britain? 

Mobile broadband may be improving, and 
wireless links such as Wimax will continue to 
roll out - albeit at a very slow pace - but 
when it comes down to it, if you want a 
really fast broadband link, you need a fixed 
physical connection. 

As projects such as BT's Ebbsfleet trial. Ask 
24's residential services, and the wider rollout 
of ADSL2-I- show, faster connections are 
coming - but so is the crunch. Before internet 
users in the UK can all have the really fast 
network connections that some of these trials 
offer, there needs to be a dramatic change in 
the way internet connections are regulated 
and funded. Without substantial investment - 
and that means ensuring companies are 
allowed to benefit from their investment too - 
there's a real chance the fastest internet 
connections will remain the province of those 
fortunate enough to live in new buildings or 
areas targeted for special projects. 

Ultimately, that means Ofcom - and the 
Government - need to think hard about a lot 
more than just the poster speeds advertised 
by ISPs. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



37 



TOP 20 VISTA FIXES 



Taming Vista 



Windows Vista can be confusing to the uninitiated, so Paul 
Monckton provides solutions for 20 of the worst annoyances 



As a relative newcomer, Vista 
can't boast the maturity and 
stability of Windows XP. 
Despite Microsoft's bold 
claims, the operating system 
still retains some kinks that need to be ironed 
out. Compared with XP, many new features 
have been added, but early adopters have 
been frustrated by some seemingly 
unnecessary changes, as well as compatibility 
and performance issues. 

In some cases, it's just a matter of getting 
used to the way Vista does things, but there 
are some XP features missing in the new 
operating system that users would like to 
have back. Similarly, some of the new 
features in Vista can be downright annoying. 
It's inherently a more secure system, but, 
much like at an airport, added security comes 
with no small measure of inconvenience. 
In this feature, we'll look at 20 of the 
most common issues facing users new to 
Vista and show you how to deal with them. 

User Access Control dialogues 

^1 For many, this is probably the most 
I irritating Vista feature of all. You'll 
I probably encounter it within minutes 
of using the operating system and it'll 
continue to bug you on a regular basis. 
Any tasks that require administrator 
privileges to run require you to explicitly 
authorise them each time. This takes the 
form of a dimmed screen and a dialogue box 
alerting you to the fact that a program needs 
elevated privileges to continue. 

Of course, preventing user programs from 
performing unauthorised functions is a good 



thing. Without access to privileged system 
components, malware is unable to wreak the 
havoc it enjoyed under XP. Most other modern 
operating systems have a similar security 
system. However, Vista's implementation can 
be disruptive to your work. 

Although we wouldn't recommend it. User 
Access Control (UAC) is easy to turn off. Open 
up the control panel and go to User Accounts. 
Under 'Make changes to your user account', 
the bottom option is 'Turn User Account 
Control on or off (see screens 1 and 2). 



2 



UAC screen dimming 

When the UAC prompt appears, your 
desktop is dimmed and access to all 
applications is blocked until the prompt 
is dismissed. Microsoft calls this Secure 
Desktop. 

You'll probably find Vista switching to the 
Secure Desktop very annoying. For example, 
you may be watching a video on one screen 
while working on another, or perhaps 
engaging in an important online 
conversation. The last thing you want is to 
have the screen dimmed and access to your 
application prevented. 

Although the purpose of the Secure 
Desktop might not be immediately obvious, 
it provides a significant additional level of 
security. Because running applications have 
no access to the Secure Desktop, there's no 
way for a rogue application to spoof your 
mouse clicks and authorise the UAC dialogue 
itself - so disable it at your own risk. 

You can, however, disable the Secure 
Desktop while keeping UAC enabled. This 
means you can carry on working in other 





applications and 
attend to the UAC 
prompt in your own time. 

If you have a Business edition of 
Vista or Vista Ultimate edition, disabling the 
Secure Desktop is easy. Simply run 
'secpol.msc' from the Start menu or a 
command prompt and navigate to Local 
Policies, then Security Options. Scroll down 
to 'User Account Control: Switch to the 
secure desktop when prompting for 
elevation', double-click and select 'Disabled'. 

If you have the Home edition, you'll have 
to edit the Registry directly, so take the usual 
precaution of backing up your system, then 
open regedit and browse to HKEY_LOCAL_ 
MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ 
CurrentVersion\Policies\ System. 

Create a new 'DWORD (32 -bit) value' by 
right- clicking on the right-hand pane. Give it 
the name 'PromptOnSecureDesktop' and set 
its value to 0. 

The Aero slowdown 

Vista's Aero Glass interface looks great, 
but it requires some real graphics 
horsepower to run properly. If your 



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interruption for many of its users 



38 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




TOP 20 VISTA FIXES 



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system is 
borderline when it 
comes to meeting 
hardware requirements, you may 
find it's not able to run the interface as fast as 
you'd like. 

The obvious option is to disable Aero 
and swap to Windows Vista Basic mode. 
The control to do this is a little hidden: open 
the Control Panel and go to Personalization, 
then Window Color and Appearance. 
Select 'Open classic appearance properties 
for more color options' at the bottom, then 
choose Windows Vista Basic. 

This will disable the transparent desktop 
effects and features such as Flip 3D and live 
thumbnail previews. If you want to keep the 
latter options, keep Aero running, but disable 
the transparency effect by going to the 
Window Color and Appearance window and 
unchecking 'Enable Transparency'. 

You can also perform the same function 
from the command line by typing 
Rundll32 dwmApi #104 
to disable the effect and 
Rundll32 dwmApi #102 
to re-enable it. These commands can be 
made into desktop shortcuts, or added to the 
Windows context menu - see Tip 8 below. 

Indexing slows down your PC 

4 Many of Vista's new features are 
designed to make your life easier, to 
make you more productive and to 
speed up the way you interact with your PC. 
Unfortunately, many require a jolly fast 
PC if they're to work well. 



Vista's enhanced indexing service is a 
prime example of such a feature. Integrated 
into just about every Explorer window, it lets 
you type a few letters of whatever you're 
looking for and the results are displayed 
almost instantaneously. 

If your PC is slow, it won't be 
instantaneous. All that indexing in the 
background is going to make everything else 
slower, too. If this is happening to you, turn 
it off. To do that, open the Control Panel and 
select Indexing Options. Select Modify and 
then 'Show all locations'. 

From here you can enable or disable 
indexing for any selected locations. If you 
have any hard drives checked, unchecking 
them will give you a general performance 
boost at the expense of slower searches (see 
screen 3). We would recommend keeping 
indexing turned on for the Start Menu, so 
you'll be able to locate programs quickly with 
only a negligible impact on performance. 

Adding Run to the Start menu 

3XP has a nifty way of running things - 
the very convenient 'Run' command 
found in the Start menu. Navigating 



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you can easily return it to the Start menu 



through menus is for newbies. When you 
know the command you need, you just want 
a quick way of typing it and getting things 
done. Additionally, many online guides and 
tutorials that work on both XP and Vista 
make liberal use of the Run command. 

So why did Microsoft remove it in Vista? 
Well, it didn't: it's just disabled by default. To 
put it back, simply do the following: Right - 
click on the Taskbar and select 'Properties'. In 
the 'Start Menu' tab, make sure 'Start Menu' 
is selected and click on 'Customize'. Scroll 
down until you find the 'Run command' 
entry and tick the box (see screen 4). 
Alternatively, you can access the Run prompt 
by pressing Windows & R, whether or not 
the option is enabled in the Start Menu. 

Add XP machines to Vista's 
Network Map 

6 Vista's Network and Sharing Center 
provides the facility to view a map of 
your entire network, including PCs, 
switches and gateways. Unfortunately, PCs 
running XP don't show up in the map. 

You can't do anything to Vista to fix this. 
Instead, you must download the Link Layer 
Topology (LLTD) Responder for Windows XP 
from Microsoft's support site (search for 
Knowledgebase article KB922120). Install it 
on your XP machines, enable File and Printer 
Sharing and your XP systems will now show 
up in the Vista network map. 

Solving dual-boot problems 

7 If you're already running XP and you 
want to install a copy of Vista on a 
different partition or drive, it's easy to 
do. Vista will automatically preserve your XP 
installation and create a boot menu so that 
you can choose which OS you want to run. 
However, if you've taken the plunge and 
have gone for a Vista-only system, you may 
discover later that you need to run XP to 
cope with all those incompatible applications, 
missing drivers and slow-running games. 
Unfortunately, adding XP as a second 
operating system to a PC already running 
Vista doesn't work as seamlessly as the other ^ 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



39 



J 



TOP 20 VISTA FIXES 





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way round. If you install a 'pre-Vista' 
version of Windows after Vista, it will 
overwrite Vista's boot record and Vista 
will no longer be available. 

The old XP method of editing your 


boot.ini file won't work either, because 





Vista has an entirely new method of 
managing system boot-up called Boot 
Configuration Data Store. To get back to 
Windows Vista after installing XP, you can run 
the following command from the Vista 
installation DVD: 

n:\boot\bootsect.exe /NT60 ALL 
where n: is the drive letter of your DVD drive. 

Restarting the system after issuing this 
command will cause your PC to boot back 
into Vista. To add XP to your boot menu, you 
need to edit Vista's BCD Store to add an 
entry for the older operating system. 

To manage the BCD Store, Vista provides 
the 'bcdedit' command. As it's a system tool 
you'll need to run it from a command window 
with administrator credentials. From within 
Vista, we can use bcdedit to add a boot entry 
for XP by issuing the following commands: 
bcdedit -create {ntldr} /d i^ 
'Windows XP' 

bcdedit /set {ntldr} device ^ 
partition=x: 

(Key: i^ code string continues) 

where x: is the drive letter for the active 

partition 

bcdedit /set {ntldr} path \ntldr 

bcdedit /displayorder {ntldr} i^ 

/addlast 

For more information, see Microsoft's help at 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/919529. 

Desktop display settings 

8 Sometimes you need to change the 
desktop display settings. On XP the 
Display Settings option was really easy 
to get to; just a right- click on the desktop and 
it's there. Vista, on the other hand, has 
reorganised many of these control dialogues 
and forces you to make many more mouse 
clicks to reach the same point. You need to 
right-click on the desktop, click Personalize, 
then at the bottom of that list you'll find 
Display Settings. 



You can make a shortcut that points 
directly to the Display Settings panel. In any 
folder, right-click and select New, then 
Shortcut. You'll be prompted for the location 
of the item to which you need to link. Type 
'C:\Windows\System32\desk.cpl' and click 
Next. When prompted to name the shortcut, 
type 'Display Settings' and click Finish. 

You can then click the shortcut to bring 
up the Display Settings dialogue immediately, 
or add the shortcut to the Quick Launch 
toolbar for even more convenient operation. 

That method certainly cuts down on 
mouse clicks, but if you really want to 
emulate the way XP does it, you'll need to 
add the Display Settings command to the 
desktop's context menu. With a little 
tweaking of the Registry, you can add your 
own commands to the menu fairly easily. 

To add the Display Settings option, open 
up Regedit and browse for the key HKEY_ 
CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shell. 

Right-click on 'shell' and select 'New Key', 
then name it 'Display Settings'. In the right- 
hand pane, double-click on the (Default) 
string and enter the value 'Display Settings'. 
Now, back in the left-hand pane, right-click 
on your Display Settings key and select 'New', 
then 'Key' to create a new sub-key. Name this 
sub-key 'command'. In the right-hand pane, 
double-click the command key's (Default) 



string and enter the value 'RUNDLL32 
SHELL32.DLL,Control_RunDLL 
DESK.CPL,@0,3' without the quotes. 
Now close Regedit and right-click 
anywhere on the Windows Desktop. Your 
new 'Display Settings' menu item should bring 
up the Display Settings dialogue, just like XP 
(see screens 5 and 6). You can use this 
technique to add anything you like to the 
context menu. For example, you could add 
the options we discussed to turn Aero 
transparency on and off, without the need to 
enter any control panels. 

Menu bars in Windows Explorer 

9 In Windows XP, Explorer windows 
contain the familiar "File, Edit, View" 
toolbar which we frequently use to 
carry out common operations on files, such 
as Cut and Paste. By default, Windows Vista 
doesn't show this menu, which is highly 
frustrating for the XP user new to Vista who 
just wants to get things done quickly. 

Thankfully, if you know the trick, this is 
one of the easiest annoyances to overcome: 
simply pressing the Alt key will make the 
menu pop up so you can use it as normal 
(see screen 7). If you want to keep the menu 
displayed permanently, go into the Tools 
menu (remember to press Alt to make it 
appear) and select Folder Options, then the 
View tab. Under Files and Folders tick the 
'Always show menus' item. 

Windows Vista needs more memory 

^M ^^^ Vista stresses PC hardware to a 
III g^^^t^^ extent than XP. If your 
I %^ hardware is close to Vista's 
minimum spec, there's a good chance your 
experience isn't going to improve without 
some sort of upgrade. 

It's generally the case that newer versions 
of Windows require not only beefier PCs, but 
also more system memory. This is especially 
true of Vista, for which we would 
recommend a minimum 2GB of Ram for the 
best user experience. If you have an older 
PC, then 2GB of Ram would more than likely 
have been considered an unnecessary 
extravagance at the time you bought it. 

If you want your menu bar back, press Alt 
and check the Folder Options 




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40 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




TOP 20 VISTA FIXES 



However, times have changed and today 
perhaps the cheapest and most cost-effective 
upgrade you can perform is to increase your 
system Ram. If you haven't loolced at 
memory prices for some time, you may find 
them considerably lower than you expect. 

Of course, a system memory upgrade will 
involve opening up your PC case. If you're 
unwilling to do this, see tip 11. 

If you're confused about which type of 
memory to buy, many online vendors, such 
as Crucial (www.crucial.com/uk), offer online 
diagnostic tools that will tell you how many 
free memory slots you have and 
automatically recommend the correct 
memory specification for your PC. 

Vista needs more memory - Part II 

^m ^d If you don't want to, or can't, 
I I install additional internal Ram 
I I then Vista has a handy feature 
called Ready Boost, designed specifically to 
help you. Ready Boost uses a standard Flash 
memory card or USB memory stick to boost 
Windows' virtual memory performance, 
helping those of us with a restricted memory 
budget to avoid the hard disk thrashing, which 
can so easily cripple a PC's performance. 

Thankfully, Flash memory, like system 
Ram, is also relatively inexpensive, but do 
make sure you buy memory with the 
required performance characteristics to run 
Ready Boost. Many Flash sticks, especially 
older products, simply aren't fast enough. 

You probably have some USB Flash 
memory already. If so, just plug it in and try 
it. Vista will test the memory automatically to 
see if it's fast enough for use with Ready 
Boost. Plug in the device and select 'Speed 
up my system from the Autorun menu (see 
screens 8 and 9). Windows will let you 
allocate up to 4GB of space for Ready Boost. 
For best results, buy Flash memory of at 
least the same capacity as your system 
memory. If you don't want a large USB 
dongle hanging out of your laptop the whole 
time, many modern notebooks have built-in 
Flash memory card readers that may be 
suitable for Ready Boost, allowing you to use 
standard SD cards and sparing you from 
those cumbersome protrusions. 

Network copying is slow in Vista 

^1 ^^^ Using the desktop to copy files to 
I M and from a network share in 
I ^^H Windows Vista is much slower 
than doing the same using Windows XP. It's a 
bug and Microsoft has fixed it as one of the 
few major performance improvements in 
Vista Service Pack 1 (see our feature on page 
50 and Hands On Networks, May 2008). 
Your file transfers should therefore be 
speeded up automatically when Service 
Pack 1 is offered to you via Windows Update, 
which should be the case by the time you 



If you don't want to upgrade Ram, use a 
memory stick to boost performance 




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read this. Alternatively, you can download 
the service pack manually from Microsoft 
Downloads at http://downloads.microsoft.com. 

Programs stop working with SP1 

^1 ^^k Unfortunately, as well as fixing 
I ^C problems such as slow file copies, 
I ^^r major updates such as service 
packs sometimes cause additional 
incompatibilities. Microsoft acknowledges that 
some applications that worked well with the 
original release of Vista have stopped working 
with SPl. A list of such applications is 
provided below, many of which already have 
updates available to make them compatible 
with the new service pack. 

However, if you use any of the programs 
we've listed below, read Microsoft's support 
page at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/935796 
and check with the relevant software vendors 
for updates prior to installation. 

• Bit Defender AV or Internet Security 10 

• Fujitsu Shock Sensor 2.1.0.0 



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• Trend Micro Internet Security 2008 

• Zone Alarm Security Suite 7.1 

• Iron Speed Designer 5.0.1 

• Xheo Licensing 3.1 

• Free Allegiance 2 . 1 

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• Rising Personal Firewall 2007 

• Novell ZCM Agent 10.01 

Make programs work 

^1 Jl There are many programs that 
I ^^B won't work with Windows Vista 
I ■ after a normal installation. This is 
usually restricted to older software, especially 
bespoke applications, which weren't written 
with long-term compatibility in mind. 
However, Vista brings with it many 
fundamental changes that couldn't have been 
predicted at the time much of the software 
we still use today was written. 

Perhaps the biggest shift that programmers 
have had to deal with is the new approach 
Windows Vista takes to system security. Until 
now, programmers have been free to access 
pretty much any part of the file system they 
wish and most programs enjoyed 
administrator-level privileges. Under Vista, 
programs must play by the rules. They can't 
create temporary files in folders that are 
protected by the system, such as 'C:\Program 
Files'. Vista takes some steps to shift things 
around behind the scenes to get around this, 
but it won't always work. 

To improve Vista's compatibility with 
such programs you should use the built-in 
compatibility modes provided by the system. 
Right- clicking an executable file will bring 
up the Properties window, including a 

Some things run better in Vista's compatibility mode ^ 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



41 



J 



TOP 20 VISTA FIXES 



j5[ Windowj; Features 



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Turn Windows features on or off i> 

To turn A feature on, defect iti check h-fl*. To turft « feituf e off, cl*ar its 
check bflji. A filled bcH mcnn^ that oniy pjiit of the f crturc a turned on. 



Add Solitaire and other games 
to Business editions of Vista 



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17 



Compatibility tab. Here you can select an 
operating system under which the program is 
known to work, as well as giving it automatic 
administrator credentials (see screen 10). 

If you do this latter step, though, you'll 
bring up the UAC elevation prompt every 
time a non-admin user runs the program. 

Vista is too expensive 

^M ^^ If you'd like to try Vista but are 
I t^^ put off by the price, you can save 
I m^^ a lot of money by purchasing an 
OEM copy of the operating system. 

You'll see OEM copies available from 
many vendors for less than half the price of 
full retail versions. Be warned, however, that 
OEM versions carry different licensing terms 
to Retail and Upgrade versions. Most 
importantly, OEM versions are licensed only 
to the PC on which they were first installed. 
If you buy a new PC (or install a different 
motherboard), you can't take your copy of 
Vista with you. Furthermore, they come 
without technical support from Microsoft. 
Support for OEM copies is to be provided 
by the OEM vendor, and if you bought the 
software for your own use, that vendor is you! 
OEM copies of Vista come in either 32 -bit 
or 64-bit versions, but you have to choose 
one at the time of purchase. 

My system won't hibernate 

^M ^^ If your hard drive has become 
I S^^ over-full you may have run 
I ^^ Vista's Disk Cleanup utility. One of 
the options is to remove the Windows 
Hibernation File using the Windows 
Hibernation File Cleaner. If you're desperate 
for disk space, it's often helpful to delete it as 
the file, being equal in size to your system 
Ram, is usually rather large. However, once 
this file has been deleted it can be tricky to 
re -enable hibernation at a later date. To turn 
hibernation back on after the hibernation file 
has been cleaned away, open a command 
prompt window as administrator and type 
powercfg /hibernate on 

Your hibernate function should now 
be restored. 



Vista won't let me 
access certain files 

Vista guards its 
system files far 
more jealously 
than any Windows operating 
system before it and employs 
strong methods to protect 
them. Even when running 
with admin credentials, it's 
possible to come across 
protected files that can't be 
deleted or edited. 
If you really need to modify such files, 
you first need to take ownership of them and 
give yourself permission to edit them. Two 
new Vista commands enable you to do this 
and should be run as administrator from a 
command window. 

To take ownership of a file, type 
takeown /f '<file>' 

where <file> is the name of the file you wish 
to modify. The file will now come under the 
ownership of the user who issued the 
command. Now, to enable full control over 
the file type 

cacls <file> /G <username>:F 
where <file> is the again name of the file and 
<username> is the name of the user for 
whom the access rights are to be set. ':F' 
specifies full control over the file. 

For a full list of options associated with 
these commands, type either takeown /? or 
cacls (no arguments) for a full list of options. 



18 



Solitaire in Vista Business Edition 

If you have a Business version of 
Vista, chances are you're not 
meant to be using your PC for 

playing games. The usual selection of 

Windows games is therefore not available. 
However, if you really want to play 

them, you can enable them via the Control 

Panel. Select Programs and Features and 

then 'Turn Windows features 

on or off from the Tasks 

pane. In the Windows 

Features dialogue, place a tick 

in the box next to the entry 

marked Games. You can 

enable individual games by 

expanding the Games entry 

and turning them on or off 

(see screen 11). 

However, if you're using a 

work PC, you may be out of 

luck, as administrator 

credentials are required to 

re-enable the missing games. 

Enable Vista's administrator login 
for even higher system privileges 



Accessing the administrator account 

^1 ^^^ If you're used to XP, then you'll 
I ^ra know it comes with a built-in 
I i^^ administrator account. Vista also 
has an administrator account, but Microsoft 
doesn't want you using it unless you know 
what you're doing. For that reason, Vista's 
admin account is disabled and hidden from 
view. You can enable the account by opening 
up a command prompt as administrator and 
issuing the command 
net user /Administrator /activeiyes 

Once activated, the administrator account 
should appear alongside your normal users at 
the sign-on screen (see screen 12). Similarly, 
to deactivate the account, type 
net user /Administrator /active: no 

This 'true' administrator account has far 
greater privileges even than normal user 
accounts that are configured as system 
administrators. It should therefore only be 
used with extreme caution, and certainly not 
as your day-to-day account. 

Tweaking the Vista Registry 

^^^ ^^k Some of us are a little 

M I I squeamish when it comes to 
^^H ^m editing the Registry, and quite 
rightly. Thankfully, those of us who prefer 
to keep the guts of the operating system 
out of our faces and avoid the risks of 
botched hacks can use Tweak Vista, a 
handy utility from Stardock. Tweak Vista is 
designed to help you take control of 
Windows Vista without getting your hands 
dirty, safe in the knowledge that any tweaks 
can be reversed. 

Many of the fixes we've described here, 
including UAC settings and managing system 
services, can be performed using Tweak 
Vista. It also comes with plenty of help and 
background information, as well as a built-in 
Vista-based mini news feed to keep you up to 
date with the latest updates and bug fixes. 

Tweak Vista can be purchased online at 
www.stardock.com for $19.99. A free trial 
version is also available. PCW 




42 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MESH recommends Windows Vista® Home Premium with Service Pacl< 1 

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Not all Windows Vista features will be available for use on all Windows Vista Capable PCs. Some features available in premium editions of Windows Vista - like the new Windows® Aero™ user interface - require advanced or additional hardware. Check vww.windowsvista.com/getready for details. Please Read: Sales subject to terms & conditions 
(copy available on request). Pictures shown for illustration purposes only - colours may vafy. 'No. of USBs: available on PC/possible on motherboard. Operating System supplied is an OEM product - Full version. BullGuard Intemet Security 7.0 Trial supplied is an OEM pre-loaded product - Full version. VM/Micro Case's purchased with intemal Card 
Reader benefit from only 4 free USB 2.0 ports. SMA (Shared Memoiy Architecture) allows for memory to be taken from RAM to supplement the graphics card requirements. ^Register online for Warranty. Warranty includes 24x7 on-line support, system restore facility, national rate hardware support and premium rate software support - see 
terms. Base unit Pick up & collection is available from MESH at £41 inc. VAT. 'Notebook warranty carries an international 24 months warranty to the MSI repair centre network. 1st year Collect & Return, 2nd year Back to Base - On the UK Mainland. Outside the UK Mainland this is a back to base service to a local authorised repair centre 
to be paid for by the customer. Prices quoted for calls to MESH are based on a BT landline - other carriers may charge you more. Our minimum standard delivefy charge is £19.99 inc for PCs and £14.99 inc for Notebooks (UK Mainland Only). Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and 



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total amount repayable £1000, pay no interest. Or 36 monthly payments of £43.96 commencing 12 months after purchase date. Total amount payable £1682.71. Interest calculated from date of agreement. Credit subject to status to UK residents aged 18 years or over. Credit provided by V12finance.com - a trading name of 
V-12 Finance Ltd, a company registered in England & Wales No 03700587. Registered Office: Regency House, 45-51 Chorley New Road, Bolton. BLl 4QR. An arrangement fee is payable on acceptance of agreement (example £55 on 12 months BNPL) Prices correct at time of going to press (26/3/08). Business hours Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 
10am-5pm. Goods provided by MESH Computers, Unit 1 Oxgate Centre, Oxgate Lane, London, NW2 7JA. Typical QQ Q Qt!^ APR 



FLASH MEMORY GUIDE 



Saviour of 
the universe 

Flash memory is one of today's most ubiquitous 
storage technologies. Terry Relph-Knight investigates 



Imagine a mobile phone that lost all its 
numbers when you took out the battery. 
Or a digital camera that you had to keep 
charged, otherwise your holiday snaps 
vanished. Both would be pretty useless 
to most of us. And while we might expect a 
really old radio to lose the stations we've 
stored if it's unplugged, we don't expect it of 
a new one. Whether we remember to charge 
it up or not, we assume our MP3 player will 
have all our tunes, just as soon as it's 
powered up. 

For all these things, we rely on 
non-volatile memory, which carries on 
holding data when the power is removed. 
In most modern devices, that means Flash 
memory - compact, cheap, and found inside 
just about everything electronic. It's even 
supplanting the hard disk, with products 
such as Apple's new Macbook Air available in 
an entirely Flash-based version, and the Asus 
Fee PC relying on it too. 

So just what is Flash memory, how does 
it work, and is there really a difference 
between the brands and types that, 
increasingly, you can even pick up at the 
supermarket with your groceries? In this 
feature, we'll explain all you need to know. 

How Flash works 

If all you want to know is what's different 
between one brand of Flash and another, 
skip ahead to the section on buying Flash. 
But if you want to know the technical 
details, read on. Flash memory works by 
storing tiny electrical charges, representing 



A Flash MOSFET memory cell 



ov 



Control Gate 



Floating Gate 



individual binary bits. These charges can 
be retained for many years by the right 
type of materials. 

Flash memory uses a specially 
configured transistor (technically it's a 
metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect- 
transistor or Mosfet) to store each of 
these charges. A 'normal' Mosfet has 
three connections, referred to as Source, 
Drain and Gate (see diagram below). 
The 'channel' between the source and 
the drain conducts current under 
control of the voltage present on the 
gate terminal. A Flash Mosfet has an 
extra gate layer underneath the main gate 
terminal. This is a 'floating' gate, so called 
because it's surrounded by an insulating 
layer. When the floating gate becomes 
charged, it partially screens the effect of the 
main control gate. 

The memory cell is read by placing a 
voltage on the control gate, and the presence 
or absence of a charge on the floating gate, 
affects the current flowing between the 
source and the drain, revealing the 
information stored. 

The floating gate is charged by applying a 
higher voltage to the control gate, causing 
current to flow between the source and the 
drain, which induces some electrons to 
charge the floating gate via a process known 
as hot-electron injection. 

Cells are erased by applying a large 
reverse polarity voltage pulse between the 
control gate and the drain, which pulls 
electrons off the floating gate in a process 
called quantum 
tunnelling. 

On-chip charge pumps 
are used to generate the 
voltages required for 
programming and erasing 
the memory cells. 




^Charge stored on 
Floating Gate 



Source 



200 A gap 
Substrate 



+V 



Drain 



Flash uses an additional 
'floating gate' in a transistor 
to store a charge, indicating 
a 1 or a 



enabling Flash memory chips to run off a 
single low-voltage supply rail. 

Flash memory technology is an offspring 
of the earlier EEPROM (electrically erasable, 
programmable, read-only memory), which 
was invented as a convenient means of 
storing firmware that could be updated 
without having to remove the chip from the 
device it controlled. EEPROM technology 
supports only occasional write cycles and is 
relatively slow. Flash, as the name implies, 
has faster read and write times and allows a 
much greater number of write cycles. 

The main reason for Flash's speed is that 
its programming cycles affect whole blocks of 
memory, rather than individual bytes as in 
an EEPROM. 

Flash was invented in 1984 by Fujio 
Masuoka at Toshiba. A colleague, Shoji 
Ariizumi, reportedly suggested the name 
'Flash' because the burst of high voltage 
applied during the erasure process reminded 
him of the flash of a camera. 

It's possible to build Flash memory chips 
using either a NOR or NAND logic gate 
configuration. Although the earliest products 
used NOR gates, designers soon realised that, 
by sacrificing some flexibility in individually 
programming and reading memory cells, they 
could pack a lot more bits into the same area 
using a NAND gate configuration with serial 
interconnections. Today, almost all the 
modules produced are NAND Flash. 



46 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



FLASH MEMORY GUIDE 



'Lexar 
^Professional 

CompartFlash ' 



treme^ 



Buying products 

Buying Flash products 
can be a confusing 
and intimidating 
process. It's a bit lilce 
buying gas and 
electricity; there are 
often so many poorly 
explained options it 
can be hard to 
compare products in 
order to make a 
purchase decision. 
Flash memory 
products are 
differentiated by six 
things; the physical 
format of the memory 
(SD card. Memory 
Stick, Compact Flash 
and so on), the chip 
type used for the 
memory, read and 
write speeds, added 
value features such 
as bundled software 
or built-in 
encryption for 
business use (a fairly 
recent innovation) 
and finally the two 
attributes uppermost in 
consumers' minds, storage capacity and price. 

Price considerations are often connected 
with the decision on whether to buy a 
recognised brand name, a cheaper 'rebrand', 
or a no-name or 'value' option. Buying very 
cheap memory is often a false economy, and 
its worth very much depends on the value 
that you place on the data you want to store. 
Identifying the type of memory you want, 
for example USB stick or CF card, is usually 
self evident, however you do have to be 
careful when purchasing online, since some 
vendors' descriptions can be poorly worded; 
we've explained the pros and cons of the 



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PCW's labs site maintains a 
database of test reports on 
Flash media of all types. 



The test ^ 



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different formats on page 
49. As far as chip type is 
concerned, for practical 
purposes, all Flash on the 
market today is NAND 
gate based so it's not 
something you really 
need to worry about 
when you're shopping. 

Making sensible Flash 
buying decisions is partly 
about knowing the 
capabilities of the digital 
device into which you're 
going to be plugging the 
memory. For example, it 
may not be worth buying the fastest CF 
card if the camera you're going to plug it in 
to does not support fast (Ultra DMA) 
memory access. In general, when buying a 
new super-fast Flash card, to avoid 
disappointment, it's well worth checking 
on the maximum transfer rate supported 
by your digital devices. Check to make sure 
they support all the sizes - older devices 
may not work with larger capacity cards, or 
may need their firmware updated first. 

Flash 'speed ratings' 

Although consumers don't tend to think 
about it. Flash 'speed' or transfer rate is 
quite important. One of the most annoying 
things commonly voiced about digital 
cameras is that they don't respond quickly 
enough, so you miss that perfect shot. And 
when using Flash for file transfer and 
backup, nobody likes waiting for lengthy file 
transfers to complete. 

Manufacturers tend to describe all their 
Flash products as 'blazingly fast' and to 
indicate actual transfer rates in inconsistent 
ways. Major player Sandisk just uses 



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45 



Comparison of typical maximum transfer rates (Mbytes/sec) 

Typical Sata hard disk 

Sandisk CF Extreme IV card 

Sony Memory Stick Pro-HG 

USB2 memory 

CF III card 

Extreme III SD 8r SDHC 

Sony Memory Stick 

Ultra II SDHC 16 & 32GB 

CF II card 

Ultra II SD 

CF card 




120 



20 



40 



60 



80 



100 



120 



140 



descriptive product range names; Extreme, 
Ultra and so on, while Kingston Technology 
and others use a relative 'X' speed number 
system as well as the name. Like CD and 
DVD drives this is based on the supposed 
speed of the first-generation product. IX is 
taken to be 150Kbytes/sec or 0.15Mbytes/sec, 
which is, coincidentally, also the speed of a 
IX CD -Rom drive. 

To help you cut through the marketing 
spin, PCW's labs maintains an online 
database of Flash memory tests (using the 
HD Tach benchmark) at www.reportlabs.com/ 
testbed/versionl/flashstoragel/flashtoplO.php. 
We've found that even the fastest don't 
give average transfer rates of much more 
than about 20Mbytes/sec, which is the limit 
of the fastest USB 2 card readers rather than 
the cards. Some Fire wire -based card readers 
claiming 40Mbytes/sec transfers are available 
but at the time of writing these only support 
CF cards. 

Longevity 

The longevity of Flash memory is something 
that vendors are extremely coy about, and 
you'll have a hard time finding any lifetime 
figures on their websites. However, various 
industry observers have published their 
own estimates of Flash lifetime when used 
as a hard disk. This application is probably 
the most stressful possible and, assuming 
minimum write /read cycles of between 
100,000 (a figure often used by the chip 
makers) and two million, the calculated 
lifetime was between 50.74 (research by 
www.storagesearch.com) and 12.9 years 
(Bit Micro). 

In theory, since the rate of use is much 
lower in digital cameras and general file 
transfer duties. Flash memory in those 
applications should last a good deal longer. 
With repeated insertions and removals it's 
more likely that the connectors might start to 
fail before the memory does. ^ 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



47 



J 



FLASH MEMORY GUIDE 



The maximum data retention time 
between when Flash is programmed and data 
is read is also of interest - that is, how long 
before you turn on a device and find that it 
has forgotten what you stored. Kingston 
Technology for example, rates its memory for 
'up to' 10 years' retention under normal use. 
These numbers are impressive and compare 
very favourably with other methods of non- 
volatile storage. 

The major brands 

Flash memory cards are a high-volume, 
commercial product, so it's easy to see which 
the major brands or wholesalers are, but 
much more difficult to pin down is who 
makes the chips, outer card casings and 
performs the card assembly for those brands. 
Memory has been a steady cash cow for 
Japanese manufacturers and Toshiba, 
Matsushita and Fujitsu make large quantities 
of Flash chips. However, the Korean 
manufacturer Samsung Electronics (number 
one with 41.2 per cent market share) and 
Hynix Semiconductor (in third place) now 
dominate the market. Toshiba, inventor of 
the technology, is currently number two with 
22.5 per cent market share, though it 
recently announced big expansion plans. 

In the UK, memory specialists Kingston 
and the US company Sandisk (partners with 
Toshiba, www.sandisk.com) are the two biggest 
brands, and Qmemory, Transcend and 
Sony are also well known. You will 
often see own-branded cards 
supplied with big-brand digital 
cameras, but these are often 
manufactured by Sandisk or Toshiba 

Flash prices 

With hard disk storage it's possible to analyse 
the cost per gigabyte and find a 'sweet spot' 
where drives of a particular capacity offer the 
lowest cost per GB. With Flash memory the 
cost per GB is a bit harder to analyse because 
it varies a lot depending on the speed too. 
There's also a smaller range of capacities to 
choose from, with just 1, 2, 4 and 8GB 
capacities in many ranges, but a larger 
selection of types. 

Analysis of USB Flash memory device 
prices shows that the price per GB ranges 
between £3 and £19. For CF cards the range 
is £6 to £20 and for SD it's £6 to £18. 

Flash devices with an unusually high 
price per GB tend to include some form of 
added value in addition to the memory. That 
might be bundled software such as backup, 
or data-recovery software, or extra hardware 
abilities, such as built-in encryption or SD 
cards with fold-out USB connectors. At the 
top end of the market, there are even 
products such as the Safeboot Phantom 
(reviewed in PCT^ Business section, March 
2008, see www.pcw.co.uk/2206787), which 



Flash types in depth ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^M 


NAME 


ACRONYM 


FORM FACTOR 
(MM) 


DRM SUPPORT 


MAX CAPACITY 1 
(APRIL 2008) ■ 


Compact Flash 1 


CF-I 


43x36x3.3 


None 


64GB 


Compact Flash II 


CF-II 


43x36x5.5 


None 


64GB 


Memory Stick 


MS 


50x21.5x2.8 


Magicgate 


128MB 


Memory Stick Duo 


MSD 


31x20x1.6 


Magicgate 


128MB 


Memory Stick Micro M2 


M2 


15x12.5x1.2 


Magicgate 


8GB 


Memory Stick Pm Duo 


MSPD 


31x20x1.6 


Magicgate 


16GB 


Memory Stick Pm-HG Duo 


MSPDX 


31x20x1.6 


Magicgate 


4GB 


MicmSD Card 


micmSD 


11x15x0.7 


CPRM 


2GB 


MicmSD Card High Capacity 


micmSDHC 


11x15x0.7 


CPRM 


12GB 


MiniSD Card 


miniSD 


21.5x20x1.4 


CPRM 


4GB 


MMCmicro Card 


MMCmicro 


12x14x1.1 


None 


2GB 


Multimedia Card 


MMC 


32x24x1.5 


None 


8GB 


Reduced size Multimedia Card 


RS-MMC 


16x24x1.5 


None 


2GB 


Secure Digital Card 


SD 


32x24x2.1 


CPRM 


32GB 


Secure Digital Card High Capacity 


SDHC 


32x24x2.1 


CPRM 


128GB 


Smart Media 


SM/SMC 


45x37x0.76 


None 


128MB 


XD-Picture Card 


XD 


20x25x1.7 


None 


512MB 


XD-Picture Card (Types M & H) 


XD 


20x25x1.7 


None 


2GB 



This 64GB SSD from Crucial is in a 2.5in Sata 
enclosure, making it a drop-in replacement for a 
standard hard drive 




reliable and long lasting than people often 
think. At the moment, compared to hard 
disks, the disadvantages are that capacities 
still can't keep up with the ever-growing 
hard disk drive, it's not as fast, and the cost 
per GB is relatively high. Today an external 
500GB hard drive costs well under £100, 
which works out at only 20 pence per GB or 
less. By comparison, typical Flash cards cost 
between £3 and £20 per GB. 

Inevitably though, in the future prices will 
fall, capacities and speed will rise, making 
Flash memory a more attractive alternative 
to mechanical hard drives. PCW 



incorporates a fingerprint scanner. If you do 
find something that looks suspiciously cheap, 
be cautious - it could well be a fake (see the 
box, right). 

The future of Flash 

With the introduction of small computers 
using Flash-only storage like Asus' Fee PC 
and the massive MP3 player and digital 
camera markets, the future looks very good 
for Flash memory. It's now starting to appear 
in housings that mimic traditional 2.5in 
notebook hard drives for drop-in 
replacement, such as the prototype 128GB 
Solid- State Drive (SSD) shown by Taiwanese 
manufacturer A-data (www.adata.com.tw) early 
last year and the 64GB Crucial SSD. Apple's 
Macbook Air is already available with an SSD 
option, and the Lenovo Thinkpad X300 is 
only available with a 64GB SSD. 

As time goes by the idea of using Flash 
memory for bulk storage begins to look more 
and more attractive. It's small, simple, 
rugged, low power and perhaps rather more 



Fake Flash 



Flash memory is an obvious target for 
counterfeiters because it's small and easy 
to ship, it sells in high volume with a 
reasonable margin and it's relatively easy 
to copy the labelling and case designs. 
Copies are only made of the high-value 
brand names and they're often so good 
that it's hard to tell the genuine article 
when they are compared side by side. 
However, although the fakes may work 
they are usually nowhere near as reliable 
as the genuine article. 

A simple way to fake Flash is to buy 
low-cost, obscure brand cards and replace 
the labels with a copy of those from a top 
brand. To steer clear of fakes, we 
recommend you always buy your memory 
from a reputable dealer, and avoid 
auctions or suspiciously cheap vendors. 



48 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




J 



FLASH MEMORY GUIDE 



Flash forms 



EPSON 



Over the years Flash memory chips 
have appeared in more than 20 
memory card formats. Only a few 
remain - USB stick, Compact Flash, 
Secure Digital and Sony's Memory Stick are 
the survivors, along with the proprietary 
formats of major game console vendors, and 
mobile phone SIM cards. 

Smart Media 

Now almost defunct. Smart Media was the 
first card memory released with NAND Flash. 
It often had only a single flash chip mounted 
in a very thin, flat card and no built-in 
controller. This led to address compatibility 
problems as capacities increased and Smart 
Media ceased production with 128MB cards. 
With its limited connections it's also slower 
than the competing Compact Flash card. 
There are many digital cameras still in use 
that use Smart Media memory. 

USB memory sticks 

USB Flash memory, also sometimes referred 
to as thumbdrive, Jumpdrive (a Lexar 
marketing name) or a USB key, is by now 
familiar to most people and has largely 
usurped the floppy disk. It's ideal for 
temporary backups and file transfer, but USB 
keys stick out when plugged in so don't suit 
semi-permanent installation, unlike most of 
the other Flash formats. The connector is 
simple, but transfer rates are limited ^__ 
by the USB port, so a USB2 
memory key will run slowly in 
a USB1 port. Unlike Smart 
Media, they include a 
controller chip to perform 
maintenance duties and filing 
system conversion. 

One of the larger forms 
of Flash, USB sticks are 
sometimes fitted with 
write-protect switches and 
almost always have an activity 
light. They're typically 
available in capacities from 
256MB to 32GB and with 
transfer rates up to 22Mbytes/sec. 

Besides capacity and speed, the price of 
USB Flash is determined by features such as 
metal cases, extras such as encryption or 
displays showing usage. 

Compact Flash (CF) 

Compact Flash, based on the PC Card and 
introduced by Sandisk in 1994, is one of the 
oldest Flash card hardware configurations 
and, although the casing is relatively bulky, 
the CF card has proven to have great staying 



EPSON 

Sieibl 
H! PiiEilcCard 




Qi5 



power. Along with Smart Media, Compact 
Flash was a success in digital cameras, where 
it is still commonly used. CF is made in two 
types; Type I is 3.3mm thick and Type II 5mm 
thick. Type II is used for micro hard drives 
and is now quite rare. CF also comes in four 
speeds; the original CF, CF High Speed (also 
known as CF+ or CF 2.0 or II) with a typical 
lOMbytes/sec read and 9Mbytes/sec write, 
CF 3.0 (or III) with a typical 20Mbytes/sec 
read and write and CF 4.0 (or IV) with a 
typical 40Mbytes/sec read and write. 

Although the package size and connector 
for Compact Flash add to the manufacturing 
cost, the connector means CF has a wide, 
parallel, data bus and this is partly why the 
popular format has remained. It allows some 
CF cards to support Ultra Direct Memory 
Access (UDMA) for a 300X (45Mbytes/sec) 
transfer rate, providing the device they are 
plugged into supports UltraDMA, which 
some high-end digital cameras now do. In 
theory, revision 4.0 of the standard supports 
up to 133Mbytes/sec, and seek times for 
DMA-capable CF cards can beat those of a 
hard drive. Capacities range from 32MB up 
to 64GB and the cards themselves include a 
controller chip to perform wear mapping and 
filing system conversion. 



Secure Digital (SD) 

Secure Digital or SD cards 
and the associated formats 
miniSD, microSD, SDHC (SD 
High Capacity) miniSDHC 
and microSDHC, are perhaps 
today's rising stars of Flash. 
SD memory is physically 
small and light, so it's 
eminently suitable for use in 
handheld digital devices such 
as pocket cameras. The 
name Secure Digital is used 



Above: Two USB memory sticks, one bearing a 
promotional branding 




A selection of four different brand CF Cards in 
a range of capacities 

because the original formats - SD and SDHC 
- are fitted with a tiny mechanical write- 
protect slide switch. High Capacity, as in 
SDHC, refers to cards with capacities over the 
2GB partition size limit imposed by Fat; these 
'HC devices use the Fat32 format instead. 

The mini and micro cards don't have a 
switch, but can be inserted into an adapter 
that does, and allows them to fit SD slots. 

Transfer rates for SD are lOMbytes/sec 
for the low-capacity, minimum-specification 
cards, up to 20Mbytes/sec for the highest 
specification cards. 

Sony Memory Stick 

Memory Stick is a proprietary Sony product, 
designed to lock users of their devices into 
using only this format. There are five flavours 
of Memory Stick; the original, the Memory 
Stick Micro, the MS Duo, the MS Pro Duo, 
and the MS Pro-HG Duo, with a maximum 
capacity of 32GB. According to Sony the 
newer MSmicro is designed for use in mobile 
phones and the company no longer supports 
the original Memory Stick. 

The MS Micro is available in 512MB, 1, 2 
and 4GB capacities and the MS Duo is 
available only in 128MB. The MS Pro-Duo is 
available in 512MB, 1, 2, 4 and 8GB 
capacities. All three have a maximum transfer 
rate of 20Mbytes/sec. The MS Pro-HG Duo 
is available in 1 , 2 and 4GB capacities with a 
maximum transfer rate of 30Mbytes/sec. 

Memory Stick is one of the few 
removable Flash memory formats that 
supports DRM (Digital Rights Management), 
in the form of Sony's Magicgate. 

• For more information see the 'Flash types' 
table on previous page. 

From left to right: miniSD card, miniSD adapter, 
8GB SDHC card and 16GB SDHC card 



4gb i 




June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



49 



WINDOWS VISTA SERVICE PACK 1 



Vista's aid package 



Vista's first service pack may he welcome, hut don 't 
expect too much, and do your homework first, 
warns Kelvyn Taylor 



The last major operating system 
service paclc from Microsoft, 
Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows 
XP, released in 2004, was an 
oddball. Rather than a simple 
rolled-up collection of patches and hotfixes, 
it introduced some major new features and 
functionality. So much so, in fact, that we 
produced an illustrated step-by-step guide to 
the new additions (www.pcw.co.uk/2045914). 

But whatever you might have heard, the 
new SPI for Vista is not in the same league. 
It doesn't include any major new changes to 
functionality or the user interface, and one of 
its real functions is to harmonise Vista's core 
files and the newly launched Windows 
Server 2008, which shares the Vista code. 
Microsoft hopes this will help convince 
enterprise users that Vista is now mature 
enough for them to start an upgrade cycle. 

Some hiccups Microsoft has identified 
since it started beta testing SPI back in 2007 
mean the rollout has not been quite as 
simple as it had hoped. In this feature we're 
going to look inside SPI to see what makes it 
tick, and highlight why you should think 
before rushing to the Windows Update site 
to download and install it. Or if, as is more 
likely, by the time you read this it has already 
been installed on your system automatically, 



this feature should help you spot the 
well-hidden changes. 

Small but powerful 

Let's put to rest the various 

myths surrounding the size of 

Vista SPI. Microsoft, for all its 

failings, is well aware that 

minimising the size of service 

packs is in its interest if it wants a 

high uptake. And yes, it still does 

realise that not everyone has broadband - if 

you've visited the Microsoft downloads site 

(http://downloads.microsoft.com) you'll notice it 

still gives you estimated download times for 

dial-up connections. 

If you download SPI via Windows Update 
it's approximately 65MB. This represents a 
couple of hours via 56Kbits/sec dial-up or 15 
minutes using a 1 Mbit/sec ADSL connection. 
Compared to the 250MB behemoth that was 
XP SP2, it's a tiddler. 

Where the confusion has arisen is that the 
Windows Update version is a smart package, 
in that it only downloads the components 
and patches needed for your system. 

The standalone versions of SPI, on the 
other hand, need to include support for the 
different language versions of Vista. There's a 
450MB five -language version and a full 




Microsoft is 
pinning a lot of 
hopes on Service 
Pack 1 for Vista, 
seen here in early 
RC1 form 



Cpen With 



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You can now change Vista's 
default search program 



3 6 -language version that's a chunky 550MB. 
You can download these direct from the 
Microsoft Downloads site. These standalone 
versions are aimed chiefly at IT 
administrators who want to centralise and 
control the rollout of SPI across a large 
number of PCs. 

Things can only get beta 

A few months ago we previewed the release 
candidate of SPI {PCW, March 2008) and 
since then not much has been changed. The 
main change is in the installation, which for 
the beta involved a long and involved process 
to ensure some prerequisite hotfixes were 
installed before SPI itself was downloaded 
and installed. 

For the final version of SPI, this 
procedure shouldn't be necessary as the 
three patches should have been downloaded 
(if applicable to your version of Vista) via the 
normal Windows Update process in the first 
couple of months of 2007. You can check 
whether these have been installed by going 
to Windows Update in the Vista Control 
Panel and clicking the 'View update history' 
link. The relevant patch numbers to look for 
are KB935509 (only required on Windows 
Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista 
Ultimate), KB938371 and KB937287. 

But however much Microsoft has tried to 
make the update painless, Vista SPI hasn't 
got away scot-free. In late testing it was 
discovered that badly written drivers for 
certain products (believed to include some 
audio, video and network cards) could cause 
problems during an SPI install. So Microsoft 
had to come up with a way around this, and 
it has done so via Windows Update. This will 
check whether the rogue drivers are installed 



50 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




J 



WINDOWS VISTA SERVICE PACK 1 



on your PC, and if they are SPl won't be 
downloaded to your PC until the 
manufacturers have come up with fixed 
drivers and made them avaialable via 
Windows Update. It's hoped that these will 
have been sorted out by the time you read 
this in mid-April, but if your Vista PC hasn't 
yet automatically installed SPl via Windows 
Update, that could be the reason. 

If you fancy overriding Windows Update 
and installing SPl via the standalone 
package, you can, but be aware that doing it 
this way won't check your PC for suspect 
drivers and you could end up causing 
yourself more grief than necessary. Our 
advice to all but the most confident users is 
to leave Windows Update to do its thing. 

If you're one of the adventurous users 
who installed the public beta of SPl, you'll 
need to uninstall it via Control Panel in order 
to get access to the final version. 

What's in it for me? 

Enough of the mechanics of how to get SPl; 
what exactly does it offer end users? Even 
though the offical guide to what's changed 
runs to 20 pages, probably the only thing a 
casual user might notice is the Search item on 
the right-hand side of the Start menu has 
now disappeared. The Search box is still 
there, and Search still works the same way. 
But if you want to load the Instant Search 
window you now need to press Windows key 
& F. The reason for this is that Google 
protested that the deep integration of 
Windows Search in Vista disadvantaged third- 
party desktop search products. Microsoft 
acquiesced remarkably quickly on this, and 
now you can choose your own default 
program for the Search protocol. This choice 
will replace the Search provider on a system- 
wide basis, so pressing Windows key & F will 
now launch your preferred search tool. 

In terms of performance, Microsoft isn't 
claiming any major speed improvements 
apart from fixing a bug in file copying. 
Whereas before Vista would sometimes sit 
and think for ages while trying to calculate 



Slipstreaming slips aways 



One thing you won't be able to do with 
SP1 is 'slipstream' it. Slipstreaming is a way 
of incorporating the files from a service 
pack (or other patches and hotfixes) into a 
new installation CD or DVD. With Windows 
XP, this was a great way of saving you time 
when you have to reinstall XP from scratch. 

But with Vista, the installation disc 
contains an image file of an installation 
rather than a collection of installation files. 
If you try to slipstream Vista SP1 , you'll end 
up with a corrupted installation. There is a 
workaround, called reverse integration. You 



install Vista, then SP1, then create a new 
Vista install image from this installation. 
The problem is it's not a simple process for 
home users (see http://tinyurl.com/37lfdw 
for more details). Even the slipstreaming 
tool Vlite can't reliably get around this, so 
we'll have to wait for Vista SP2 (whenever 
that is), at which time Microsoft says 
slipstreaming will be possible. 

New retail copies of Vista will 
incorporate SP1, so if you're planning on 
buying a copy, make sure you check that it's 
the SP1 version. 



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We haven't seen any 
Windows OS failures 
since installing SP1 



estimated copy times, 

now the whole process of 

copying between folders 

or via a network is 

noticeably quicker. Our 

Hands On Networks 

columnist Alan Stevens 

looked at this aspect in 

detail in the April 2007 issue of PCW (see 

www.pcw.co.uk/2185620) . 

Advanced users will notice that the Group 
Policy Management Console (GPMC) has 
been removed, and typing gpedit.msc in a 
Run box will now just launch the Local 
Policy Editor. A new version of GPMC will 
eventually be available from Microsoft. 

You might think you've found some extra 
memory if you have 4GB of Ram installed, as 
Vista's System Properties will now report the 
total amount of Ram installed rather than the 
amount available to the OS. 

Typical of the many subtle tweaks in SPl, 
the Disk Defragmenter now lets you choose 
which volumes to defragment - previously it 
would automatically run on all disk drives. 

Another disk-related improvement comes 
if you use Vista's Bitlocker drive 
encryption system (only available in 
Vista Ultimate and Enterprise 
editions). SPl now adds the ability 




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to encrypt non-system disks. 



Application compatibility 

There's been an outcry in the media 
about some applications not working 
or being blocked by SPl, notably 
some anti-virus and firewall 
programs such as Bit Defender and Zone 
Alarm. Almost all these programs have 
SPl -compatible updates or patches available 

Users are given the ability to choose which disks 
to run Disk Defragmenter on 



for free. The full list is available as article 
935796 in the Microsoft Knowledgebase 
(http://support.microsoft.com) . 

Although SPl contains some new 
compatibility fixes for applications, it won't 
fix programs that are fundamentally 
incompatible with the way Vista works. 

Reliability improvement 

Microsoft claims SPl will improve reliability, 
something that's very difficult to assess in 
these early days. However, during our four 
months' experience of running the RC 1 
version we have noticed our test system - 
which is in daily use - hasn't experienced 
any Windows OS failures, as monitored via 
the Vista Reliability Monitor. Before SPl we 
were getting at least half a dozen OS freezes 
a month, so Microsoft certainly appears to be 
doing something right. 

To install or not to install? 

The final decision to install Vista SPl or 
not is left to the user - Microsoft won't 
force the update on anyone who turns off 
automatic updates or declines the 
download. But on balance we'd say there's 
little reason to avoid it, as it certainly 
patches a good few holes and doesn't do 
anything particularly controversial. But for 
those who do want to install it, we would 
definitely recommend doing it via Windows 
Update if possible to avoid the chance of 
messing up your PC due to one of the 
known rogue drivers. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



51 



% I 




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Trusted tests from the UK's best Labs 



EDITED BY 
WILL STAPLEY 




HEAD FOR THE HILLS 

If you don't own a sat nav, you can't fail to have seen them 
clogging up the aisles of stores across the country. But there's 
I much more to GPS than simple A-to-B in-car navigation and this 
month we take a look at the latest outdoor GPS devices on the 
market. Although there aren't a huge number of manufacturers at the moment, 
having tried out a few devices myself I highly recommend you give one a go. These 
pocket wonders let you explore the countryside like never before and some use 
instantly recognisable Ordnance Survey maps. They're also great for use in urban 
areas and, unlike the so-called pedestrian modes found in many in-car sat navs, will 
help you find your way through a town centre on foot, making use of all the 
various footpaths and bridleways. Find out which model scooped our Editor's 
Choice award on page 96. 



CONTENTS 





HARDWARE 


ACCESSORIES 




SOFTWARE 


54 


Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 


67 Maplin USB2 to Sata/IDE 


71 


AVG Internet Security 8 


55 


Shuttle P2 3500G 


Adapter 


72 


Serif Webplus X2 


57 


NEC Versa S970 


Microsoft Wireless Mouse 


73 


Webroot Parental Controls 




Fujitsu Siemens Amilo 


Autosafe Cubebyte 


74 


Topaz Moment 3.4 




Si 2636 


3rd Space FPS Vest 




GAMES 




PERIPHERALS 


PC ESSENTIALS 


75 


Lost: The Video Game 


58 


Medion Copal P4425 
AMD Phenom X4 9850 


68 A-Data Vitesta DDR2-1066+ 
Extreme Edition 




Speedball 2 - Tournament 


61 


Chimei CMV 633A 


Akasa AK-965BL 




BEST BUYS 




LC Flatron L197WH S+ 


Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000 


76 


Best buys 


62 


Apple Time Capsule 
Pali Geforce 9600GT 


OCZ ATV 32GB 
69 Cyberpower Value 1500E-GP 


84 


How we test 


63 


Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 


Freecome Toughdrive Pro 




GROUP TESTS 


64 


Terratec DMX 6Fire USB 


HiperHFF-1N12N 


87 


Sat-nav devices 


65 


Pentax Optio A40 


Transparent 


99 


Image-editing software 




Ricoh R8 


OCZ Vanquisher 


113 Micro ATX motherboards 



Prices include Vat unless otherwise stated 



^t 



OUR SCORING 



Excellent ***** Very good **** Good *** Below average ***** Poor ***** 



!^SS 



OUR AWARDS 



Editor's Choice: The best product in a 
comparative group test. Anything that wins this 
award is of better quality than its competitors. 
Recommended: A product that combines great 
features, usability and value for money. 
Great Value: Not the best in class, but a product 
that has superior features and performance for 
the price. 

Best Buy: The best product in its class in terms of 
performance, features and value for money 




^'-. 



\V. wSrld ^ 



BEST BUY 



'Fujitsu Siemens' Amilo 
Si 2636 has a small 
display that keeps 
down the weight, and 
the red metallic strip 
makes it stand out' 

Read the review on page 57 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



53 



REVIEWS > HARDWARE 



DESKTOP PC 



Cyberpower Gamer Infinity SLI GX2 

A powerful gaming PC featuring Nvidia's latest dual-CPU graphics card 



The centre piece of this PC is undoubtedly the 
Geforce 9800GX2 graphics card - Nvidia's 
answer to the ATI Radeon HD 3870X. It's 
currently the fastest graphics card in the world, has 
the biggest price tag to match (£420) and draws 
more power than any other card (the whole system 
drew 226W while idling). 

The Geforce 9800GTX, 9800GTS and 
9800GX2 are all based on Geforce 8 technology 
specifically the 8800GTS (G92 core). The 
9800GTX and 9800GTS have higher clock 
speeds than the 8800GTS, while the 
9800GX2 has a slightly slower GPU speed 
(600MHz) but compensates for this by 
sandwiching two G92 cores together with 
Nvidia's SLI technology. 

With a whopping 1GB of 2GHz GDDR3 Ram 
it scores higher than any other card in 
benchmarks optimised for SLI. But, as always, 
the gains are never double that of a single card and, 
where software isn't optimised for SLI, the 9800GX2 
may score less than a single 8800GTS. World in 
Conflict, for example, showed little benefit from 
having two CPUs - the Cyberpower PC achieved 46fps 
(frames per second) at 1,920x1,200 with high settings 
enabled, which is a measly 14 per cent faster than 
Arbico's £900 base unit reviewed last month 
(www.pcw.co.uk/2211938) which had a similar processor 
and a single Geforce 8800GT graphics card. 

PC games run at high settings and excellent frame 
rates at the included 22in Viewsonic VX2235wm 
monitor's native 1,680x1,050 resolution, though. A 
24in model, perhaps not too big an ask for a £2,000 
PC, with a 1,920x1,200 resolution would be able to 
take advantage of the 9800GX2 far better in some 
games, plus 1,080p HD films would look crisper. 

The 9800GX2 has an HDMI output, so the 
Gamer Infinity can output to an HD TV, but it won't 
output sound because Cyberpower doesn't use the 
9800GX2's internal S/PDIF port. A Creative 
Soundblaster X-Fi Extreme Gamer soundcard will 
output sound, though, to the supplied Inspire T7900 
speakers. These speakers are seven years old now but 
still provide a great 7.1 experience. 

A dual-core Core 2 Duo E8400, based on 
Penryn architecture, with a 3GHz clock speed, and 
2GB of DDR3 Ram are the Gamer Infinity's building 
blocks. Cyberpower overdocks the CPU to 3.6GHz for 
extra oomph by increasing the front-side bus (FSB) 
from 1 ,333MHz to 1 ,600MHz and increasing the 
available voltage to 1 .425V. Other E8400s may get a 
different tweak depending on the CPU's unique 
voltage ID. 

Our CPU registered a cool 44°C after a day's 
work, courtesy of an excellent CPU suction cup and 
radiator system to expel hot air from the chassis. 




An Nforce 790i motherboard is another faultless 
inclusion. Successor to the 780i, the 790i adds support 
for DDR3 Ram and 1,600MHz FSBs, but features the 
same excellent connectivity and debug LED. Other 
system goodies include a Wifi card, a multiformat card 
reader, Vista Home Premium, a top Logitech gaming 
mouse and keyboard, 10,000rpm Raptor hard disk and 
two 500GB hard drives for acres of digital space. 

Everything fits into a Coolermaster Cosmos S case. 
We had a few problems with it, starting with two 
inactive front USB ports, which weren't connected due 
the limitations of the motherboard. There's also no 
hardware reset button. 

The Cosmos S has a new grilled side panel but no 
swing-out door like its predecessor the Cosmos 1000, 
instead relying on two flaps at either edge on the front to 
hide the 5.25in drive panel catches. One of these metal 
flaps was broken, but Cyberpower says it can easily fix 
this. We also found a loose screw from the graphics card 
rattling inside. However, Cyberpower sensibly stuffs the 
case with bulbous air-tight plastic bags that act as an 
airbag during transportation so nothing gets damaged. 

Cosmetically, the grilled side panel is used to good 
effect, with Cyberpower fitting two cold-cathodes 
so red light spills out of it (an external light switch is 
fitted if you get tired of this). 

There are a few little niggles with the Gamer 
Infinity SLI GX2 but, with exception of the 22in 
monitor, they're mostly rectifiable flaws. If you built a 
PC to this specification yourself, £2,000 wouldn't be 
enough to include a 24in monitor, so the Cyberpower 
is excellent value for money in that respect. The 
balance of the system is right if you're into playing 
Crysis and other new DirectX 10 games, since a 22in 
monitor's lower resolution makes good sense with 
these tough-to-handle games. Emil Larsen 



Performance 

PCmarkOS 8,546 



4,000 8,000 16,000 
BDmarkOe* 17,067 

4,000 8,000 16,000 

*Tested at 1 ,024x768 in 32-bit colour 



Verdict 



Pros Great for high-resolution 

gaming; top system performance; 

good keyboard and mouse 

Cons HDMI audio not enabled; no 

reset button 

Overall An astounding amount of 

power, a great look and oodles of 

premium extra features 

Features *** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £1,999 

Contact Cyberpower 0800 019 0863 
www.cyberpowersystem.co.uk 
Specifications Intel Core 2 Duo 
E8400 (3.6GHz) • Nforce 790i Ultra 
motherboard • 1,333MHz DDR3 OCZ 
Ram • 22in Viewsonic VX2235wm • 
Coolermaster Cosmos S case • 
Geforce 9800GX2 1GB • 150GB 
10,000rpm Western Digital Raptor 
hard disk • 2 500GB 7,200rpm 
Samsung Spinpoint T166 hard disks • 
Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Xtreme 
Gamer • DVD writer • 802.1 la/b/g 
Wifi • Three-year RTB warranty 



54 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



HARDWARE < REVIEWS 



DESKTOP PC 



Shuttle P2 3500G 



Big on power, but small in size 








I 




^^:s000 



ii"; .ji^ 



USB, Firewire and audio ports are accessible via a flap 
at the front 



This small form factor PC from Shuttle is branded 
a gaming machine but, at 6.9kg, weighs less 
than many big laptops. Its diminutive size has 
drawbacks if you intend to upgrade it (there is only 
one free PCI slot and one mini PCI Express slot) and it 
also costs a lot compared with bigger gaming PCs. 

The P2 3500G is based on Shuttle's SP35P2 Pro 
barebone chassis, which uses Intel's P35 chipset. Shuttle 
pairs this chipset with just one PCI Express slot, unlike its 
X38 big brother, which makes it more affordable, but it 
retains most of the features and performance of the X38 
to make it one of the best Shuttle barebones around. 

Intel's low-end quad core - the Core 2 Quad 
Q6600 - is present, along with 4GB DDR2 800MHz 
Cas5 Ram and a 750GB hard disk. The included 
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit can only access 
3.3GB of Ram - the 64-bit variant is not an option. 

The CPU is Intel's GO stepping, which has the same 
multiplier as Intel's expensive QX6850 CPU and means 
it's easily overdockable to 3GHz (often without a 
voltage increase) by simply flicking the front-side bus 
from 1, 066MHz to 1,333MHz. 

The 3500G's Bios didn't respond well to being 
overdocked, though, crashing when we used the 
auto-overdock options and booting into Windows at 
2.4GHz even when the Bios claimed it was at 3GHz. 

The Bios goes completely against tradition by 
referring to a millivolt offset rather than the whole of 
the voltage across the processor, but since overdocking 
invalidates warranties, only enthusiasts will be 
disappointed by the 3500G's intricate Bios. 

Graphics are handled by an ATI Radeon HD 3870 
with 512MB of 2.25GHz GDDR4 Ram, which is the 
fastest ATI graphics card with one GPU. It's not as fast 



as Nvidia's 8800GTS, which is a better card for the 
most serious gamers, but it does draw less power. 
Combined with the 80 per cent effident 400W PSU, 
the total system drew 95W when idling - an 
outstanding result for a gaming branded system. 

Performance was good throughout, scoring a beefy 
8,597 in PCmark05, 7,699 in the CPU section and a 
decent 1,296 in Cinebench's multi-CPU test. 

Where gaming prowess is concerned, the 
3500G scored 20fps (frames per second) in our 
intensive DirectX 10 World in Conflict benchmark at 
1,920x1,200, with high detail settings enabled. 
Only when we lowered the resolution to 1,680x1,050 
and used medium settings was the game playable, 
averaging 46fps, so a 22in monitor is probably the P2 
3500G's best companion. 

The P2 3500G, like most Shuttle computers, does a 
good job of home theatre PC tasks. There's no remote 
control, but there is 802.1 Ib/g Wifi fitted neatly inside 
the chassis. The back of the case presents a feast of 
ports, while three sleek, black front doors reveal a DVD 
writer, a multiformat card reader and a connectivity 
panel, respectively. The connectivity panel has a 
fingerprint reader, headphone and microphone jacks, a 
mini Firewire port and two USB ports, while a Speed- 
Link button gives one USB port networking functionality. 

A USB cable is supplied, with a male plug either end, 
which, when connected to the Speed-Link-enabled USB 
port and another PC activates a 480Mbits/sec network 
connection between the two. It's hardware-driven, so 
there's no need to install any drivers on either system. 

If you can stomach the £200 price compared with a 
bulkier Dell XPS gaming machine, and don't plan to 
overdock, then this is a list topper. Emil Larsen 



Performance 

PCmarkOS 8,597 



4,000 8,000 16,000 

3Dmark06* 11,807 

4,000 8,000 16,000 

*Tested at 1 ,024x768 in 32-bit colour 



Verdict 



Pros Speedy; lightweight; low energy 
consumption; great connectivity 
Cons Expensive; Bios unclear in areas; 
unreliable overdocking 
Overall A compact, efficient PC 
suited to middle-resolution gaming, 
but expensive compared with others 
Features ***** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



***** 



Price: €1,675,55 
(£1,326.20 approx) 

Contact Shuttle 
http://eu.shuttle.com 
Specifications Intel Core 2 Quad 
Q6600 (2.4GHz) • 4GB DDR2 
800MHz Cas5 Ram • 750GB Samsung 
HD753LJ hard disk • Radeon HD 3870 
512MB GDDR4 • 802.11 b/g Wifi • 
Eight USB; Two Firewire ports • 7.1 
surround sound • Optical digital in/out 
• Coaxial digital out • Vista Home 
Premium • 220x325x210mm (wxdxh) 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



55 



so MUCH 




V ■-•v,*^^*:''- 



■>'■'. /•" ■ ■> 



ARCHOS TV+ 



Break free from TV schedules, with the ARCHOS TV+. 
With up to 250GB storage, watch what you want, when you want, 
whether it's recorded from TV, streamed from your PC, or downloaded from 
the ARCHOS content portal. You can even surf the web* on your home TV. 
Who's in control now? 

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' Optional plug-in required 



Entertainment yoMTway 



HARDWARE < REVIEWS 



NOTEBOOK PC 



NEC Versa S970 



A fully encrypted hard disk so thieves can't get at your files 




This is the first notebook to use Seagate's 120GB 
FDE (full drive encryption) hard disk. With 
encryption enabled, you must type in a 
password when you switch the laptop on. The security 
mechanism resides on the hard disk, so if someone 
removes the disk and sticks it in another notebook, 
they'll still need to know the password before data can 



be accessed - and that includes booting into Windows. 
It's a secure design and performance wasn't affected. 
NEC also fits a TPM 1 .2 chip, which gathers your 
various passwords in a secure hardware chip. 

Core system performance was very good, thanks to 
a 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500 and 2GB DDR2 667MHz 
Ram, but its integrated graphics mean gaming is out. 

The chassis is a little bland but has a reasonable 
selection of ports, including three USB ports, a Firewire 
port and a multiformat card reader. Some notebooks 
use a two-pronged aerial for Wifi connectivity, but 
Nee has a three-pronged version attached to its 
Draft-N Wifi card, resulting in great Wifi reception. 

Less appealing is the 14.1 in screen, which is dimmer 
than many other modern notebooks. It also lacks a 
webcam, has stiff trackpad keys and the spacebar sits 
next to a high plastic rim so your thumbs continually 
whack it when typing at a fast pace. 

A large 5, 200m Ah battery powered it for three 
hours 28 minutes in the Mobilemark Reader test, 
which improved by 12 per cent with the ECO mode 
enabled (dims the screen and lowers CPU frequency). 

If you need top-notch security this is the best in 
the business, but if you're after a solid workhorse the 
S970 is rather mundane. Emil Larsen 



Verdict 



Pros Excellent security; great battery 
life; good core system performance 
Cons High keyboard rim; poor 
LCD brightness; no webcam; 
integrated graphics 
Overall The hard disk is great, but 
Die notebook has a bland construction 
and is physically flawed in areas 
Features *** * 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £694 

Contact NEC 020 8993 81 1 1 
www.neceurope.com 
Specifications Intel Core 2 Duo 
T7500 (2.2GHz) • 2GB 667MHz 
DDR2 Ram • 14.1 in display 
(1,280x800) • Intel GMA X3100 
graphics • 120GB Seagate FDE drive < 
3-in-1 card reader • 3 USB2 • VGA, 
S-video • DVD writer • 
33x39x239mm (wxhxd) • 2.8kg • 



NOTEBOOK PC 

Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Si 2636 

Fast processing power in a small, sleek package 




For notebooks with Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, 
clock speeds below 2GHz have until now been 
the order of the day, certainly at the cheaper end 
of the market. Most of the faster processors are in the 
bulkier desktop replacements above the £800 mark. 

Coming in a full £100 below that is the Fujitsu 
Siemens Amilo Si 2636, which contains a T8100 
processor (clocked at 2.1GHz) and 2GB of Ram. It 
also has 1GB of Intel's Turbo Memory. 

In our benchmarks, it achieved 4,423 in PCmark05 



and 541 in 3Dmark06 - neither is groundbreaking, but 
indicates it's more than capable of most office tasks. 

There's no graphics card, only the onboard Intel 
GMA X3100, so graphics and games performance 
isn't up to much, while the screen measures 13.3in 
with a resolution of 1,280x800. The small display 
helps keep the notebook's weight down to just 
2.6kg, while the red metallic strip around the sides 
really makes the Amilo Si 2636 stand out. 

It has only two dedicated USB ports, which might 
be a problem for some, but there's an eSata socket 
(doubling as a third USB port) along with an HDMI 
port (there's no VGA or DVI connector, nor is an 
adapter supplied). There's a memory card reader and 
mini-Firewire port along with headphone and 
microphone connections on the front. It also features 
Bluetooth, 802.1 In and a slot-loading DVD writer. 

The only real flaw we found was the circular 
trackpad and buttons, which take some getting used to. 
The keyboard is also a little shallow, but the design is 
otherwise impressive. Battery life was acceptable, but 
nothing special at two hours, 12 minutes. 

Despite some minor flaws, Fujitsu Siemens' Amilo 
Si 2636 is a good workhorse notebook with a stylish 
design and a reasonable price. Anthony Dhanendran 




Verdict 



Pros Good looks; fast processor; 

large hard disk 

Cons Poor graphics; bad trackpad 

Overall Good performance and 

lots of features from a decently 

priced notebook 

Features ***** 

Performance ****^ 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price: £699 

Contact Fujitsu Siemens 0800 004 
003 www.fujitsu-siemens.com 
specifications Intel Core 2 Duo 
T8100 (2.1GHz) •2GB Ram ^IGB 
Intel Turbo Memory •13.3in screen 
• Intel X3100 graphics •250GB hard 
disk •DVD writer •802.1 In 
wireless ^3 USB Ports •HDMI, 
Firewire, eSata •Bluetooth 
•Expresscard slot •Webcam 
•Windows Vista Home Premium 
•2.3kg •One-year C&R warranty 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



57 



REVIEWS > PERIPHERALS 



SAT NAV 



Medion Gopal P4425 

A feature- packed navigator with solid performance 




Despite taking a back seat to more established 
brands like Tomtom and Garmin, we've been 
impressed with the solid performance on the 
road and range of features of the Medion 's navigators. 
The P4425 offers a few improvements over previous 
models, which suggests the company is looking to 
build on its recent success. 

The slimline chassis and gloss-black finish looks 
good, while its lightweight design, customisable button 
and dedicated volume controls on the exterior are also 
impressive. Full maps of the UK and Europe are 
installed as well as built-in Traffic Message Channel and 



speed camera alerts and Bluetooth. The list doesn't 
end there though, multimedia features such as an MP3 
player, photo viewer and video player give it added 
appeal, and you'll find Berlitz travel guides and even 
an FM transmitter to send tunes or directions to your 
car stereo. It also includes a fingerprint reader that 
you can use for security as an alternative to entering 
a passcode. 

Previously we've been impressed by Medion's 
straightforward navigation, easy-to-access menus and 
customisable display, and nothing has really changed 
here. We weren't quite as bowled over as we have 
been in the past though; the maps are starting to look 
a little bland and uninspiring, and you'll have to spend 
some time tweaking the display to get a decent 
amount of information on screen. 

While capable, the general en-route navigation is 
not nearly as easy to follow as that on the Panasonic 
Strada that we reviewed in the May issue of PCW 
(www.pcw.co.uk/2212637). 

Despite these niggles, along with the fact that 
there's not a lot of additional room on the SD card to 
add your own digital media, the P4425 is still a capable 
navigator and, if you've the patience to configure it 
correctly, it won't steer you wrong. Paul Lester 



Verdict 



Pros Decent performance on the 
road; impressive array of additional 
features; good value for money 
Cons Maps are a little uninspiring; 
can take a while to configure properly 
Overall It could be a little more 
straightforward to use, but it's 
another solid effort from Medion 
Features ***** 

Performance *** r* 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £249.99 

Contact Medion www.medion.co.uk 
Specifications Atlas III 396MHz 
processor • 512MB integrated 
memory, 2GB SD card • UK and 
Europe maps • 4.3in widescreen 
display • Free RDS TMC and speed 
camera locations • Bluetooth • MP3 
and video player • 124x1 7x81 mm 
(wxdxh) • 186g 



CPU 



AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Box Edition 

A higher clock speed than the original release and no TLB bug 




The original 9000-series Phenoms received bad 
press since, at launch, AMD admitted the 
Phenom's translation lookaside buffer (TLB), 
which maps virtual addresses onto physical addresses, 
was faulty in the LB cache. The upshot is a 9000-series 
can crash when all four cores go to 100 per cent load. 

Initially we recommended holding off Phenoms 
until further investigation, but we can now confirm the 
bug only affects server applications. We've not found 
a consumer benchmark or program that can cause the 



Phenom to crash. Despite this, AMD has released its 
9050-series of Phenoms, which don't have the TLB 
bug and the bad press associated with it. 

At 2.5GHz, the X4 9850 Black Box edition is the 
fastest TLB bug-free Phenom and 100MHz faster than 
AMD's previous best, the Phenom X4 9700. The 
Hypertransport 3.0 link and memory controller are 
increased to 4GHz (full duplex) and 2GHz respectively 
(a Phenom 9750/9550's Hypertransport link will only 
run at 3.6GHz, memory controller at 1.8GHz). 

Like all Black Box edition processors, the CPU 
multiplier is unlocked, giving it maximum overdocking 
potential. AMD's Overdrive utility lets you do this in 
simple fashion, but we found it unstable for serious 
performance gains. Using the Bios we overdocked the 
9850 to 3.1GHz with a 0.225V core increase. 

At 2.5GHz the 9850 is slower than Intel's slowest 
2.4GHz Core 2 Quad, the Q6600, by four per cent in 
PCmark05's CPU test and by six per cent Cinebench 
9.5. When overdocked to 3.1GHz it sped past the 
Q6600 and the QX6700, scoring 9,172 in PCmark05. 

If you're building a home-theatre PC, pairing this 
Phenom with Gigabyte's 780G motherboard (see our 
group test on page 113) makes a great value package. 
But for high-end PCs, Intel remains king. Emil Larsen 



Verdict 



Pros Best Phenom overdocking 
potential; no TLB bug; good upgrade 
for AM2 Athlon X2 systems 
Cons Higher power consumption 
than Intel quad cores; more expensive 
and slightly lower performance than 
Intel quad cores 

Overall If you must buy an AMD 
processor, this is the best out there, 
but Intel's CPUs still hold most of 
the aces 

Features *** r* 

Performance ** r* 

Value for money *** V* 



Overall 



***** 



Price: £170 

Contact AMD www.amd.com 
Specifications Socket AM2+ • 
2.5GHz • 512KB LI cache • 2MB L2 
cache • 2MB L3 cache • 2GHz 
memory controller speed • 1 ,066MHz 
memory support • 4GHz 
Hypertransport 3.0 • 125W TDP 



58 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



ADVERTISEMENT 



Colour printing for less 

Some small businesses may still be concerned about the cost of colour 
printing, but nowadays high quality colour is possible on a tight budget 




Small businesses and large businesses 
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When it comes to print 

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The HP OfficeJet range is available from 
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reseller partners; or direct from HP online. 

Visit www.hp.com/uk/pcw 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



59 



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PERIPHERALS < REVIEWS 



16IN TFT 

Chimei CMV 633A 

The smallest desktop widescreen monitor we've seen 




Aside from those miniature 7in displays, which 
few would put on their desk for real work, 
you won't find a PC monitor that takes up 
much less space than this. Marketed as a 16in display, 
the viewable diagonal measures only 15.54in. 

Its specification is rather uninspiring. It has a 
respectable response time of 5ms, but viewing angles 
and contrast ratios are a little weak. It also has a rather 
plain appearance, yet there's something about the 
CMV 633A that's so undeniably cute you'll pardon 
these shortcomings in an instant. 



If you're short on space, it's a great companion for 
a small form factor PC, but in truth there aren't many 
spaces that really couldn't cope with something a little 
bigger and the CMV 633A's 1 ,336x768 pixels is a 
lower resolution than you'll get on most laptops. 

However, what is impressive about this display is 
the build quality. For a monitor at this price, the 
construction is superb. We were also pleased to see 
options in the control menu such as display presets, 
including an sRGB mode for easy colour matching, 
along with modes for text and movie playback. 

Despite what it says in the official specifications, the 
CMV 633A uses a TV-shaped 16:9 aspect ratio rather 
than the more common 16:10 found on nearly all 
widescreen PC displays. 

This means if you're watching a standard 
widescreen video, your picture will be a little bit larger 
than you were expecting, filling the whole screen. 

If you're using a standard 4:3 resolution, the 
monitor can optionally scale it automatically to avoid 
stretching out the image horizontally. 

The CMV 633A crams a lot into a very small 
package, including a pair of stereo speakers. It won't 
win any performance tests, but as an ultra-compact 
monitor it's impressive. Paul Monckton 



Verdict 



Pros Small size; build-quality; 

aspect- ratio scaling 

Cons Poor contrast, viewing angles 

and colour gamut; no DVI connector 

Overall If you need a small monitor 

and aren't fussy about high 

specifications, this screen won't 

disappoint 

Features ***** 

Performance ** V* 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £95 

Contact Chimei www.chimei.eu 
Specifications 16in TN panel • 
1,366x768 pixel resolution • 
270cd/m2 brightness • 550:1 contrast 
ratio • Viewing angles: 
100°(H)/70°(V) • VGA input 
connector • 1W stereo speakers • 
38.2x1 5.5x31. 5cm (wxdxh) • 2.7kg 



19IN TFT 



LG Flatron L197WH S+ 

Good looks and performance along with some interesting features 




This 19in monitor from LG is so shiny it almost 
looks wet but, despite this, it's surprisingly 
resistant to fingerprint marks. Its dual-hinge 
construction gives you a variety of viewing angle 
options: at its simplest it acts as a height adjustment, 
but it also lets you tilt the display right back, much 
like a lectern. 

LG's F-Engine technology is a fancy term for clever 
display presets. At the push of a button, the monitor 
will display a split screen with the enhanced image on 
the left and the 'normal' image on the right, making it 
much easier to decide which setting you prefer. 



The stated 10,000:1 contrast ratio isn't available in 
standard screen modes, instead this dynamic contrast 
system is only for movie playback. In fact, activating it 
on the normal Windows desktop causes the display to 
look rather overblown - we also noticed distracting 
shifts in brightness as the dynamic element of the 
adjustment kicks in. However, during video playback 
and gaming it can provide a far more dynamic, 
engaging experience. 

TFT panels work best at their native screen 
resolution, but with high-resolution monitors some 
users complain that the writing and icons on screen 
become uncomfortably small. With the monitor's 
EZ-Zoom key, you can quickly change the screen 
resolution at the touch of a button without having to 
alter any Windows settings. A full set of software 
utilities is provided that lets you control the monitor 
directly from your PC - your preferences are saved in 
profiles for easy retrieval. 

In our tests, the monitor achieved good contrast 
ratios regardless of the F-Engine setting. It's also 
capable of some vivid colours, thanks to a moderately 
large colour gamut. Put these together and you get an 
impressive-looking display that reveals the flaws in 
some of the competition. Paul Monckton 



Verdict 



Pros Built quality; dual-hinge stand; 

good contrast; software utilities 

Cons 10,000:1 contrast ratio works 

only in movie mode 

Overall A good-looking display with 

a flexible dual-hinge stand and good 

colour performance 

Features *** * 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



***** 



Price £163 

Contact LG 0870 873 5454 
www.lge.com 

Specifications 19in TN panel 
(16:10) • 1,440x900 pixel resolution • 
2ms response time • SOOcd/m^ 
brightness • 10,000:1 dynamic 
contrast ratio • 170° viewing angles • 
VGA and DVI-D connectors • 
44x23. 7x43. 6cm (wxdxh) • 3.3kg • 
Three-year warranty 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



61 



REVIEWS > PERIPHERALS 



NETWORK-ATTACHED STORAGE 

Apple Time Capsule 

Well-designed network storage device, lacking one important feature 



t 



1 



^ 



Time Capsule is primarily intended as a storage 
device for Mac owners using the Time Machine 
backup program included with OSX. However, 
it can also be used with Windows PCs or on a mixed 
Mac and PC network. 

Time Capsule is, essentially, an 802.11 n wireless 
router with a network hard disk built into it so that 
everyone on the network can share data. Our review 
unit was the £199 500GB model, but there's also a 
1TB version for £329. Apple is often criticised for high 
prices, but Time Capsule compares well to similar 
devices such as Freecom's wireless Storage Gateway, 
which costs £224 for its 500GB version. 

As you'd expect from Apple, the Time Capsule is 
easy to set up and use. A simple installer program 



guides you through the process of 
creating a new wireless network or 
adding the Time Capsule to an 
existing network. The unit also 
has three Gigabit Lan ports for 
wired connections, and a USB 
port that can be used to connect 
and share additional devices on 
the network, such as a printer or 
another hard disk. 
Setting up the Time Capsule is straightforward 
enough, but although it features a Wan port for cable 
broadband users, it doesn't include a built-in modem. 
ADSL broadband subscribers will need to connect the 
Time Capsule to an existing modem/router in order to 
maintain their internet connection. 

If you've already got a wireless router, you 
would probably be better off buying a standalone 
network-attached storage drive (500GB models can 
be picked up for just over £100). This leaves Time 
Capsule as an option for people who want to upgrade 
a wired network, but even then its lack of a built-in 
ADSL modem means it will only live up to its full 
potential when used in conjunction with a cable 
broadband service. Cliff Joseph 



Verdict 



Pros Convenient network storage 
and router; easy to set up and use 
Cons No built-in ADSL modem 
Overall As well designed as you'd 
expect from Apple, but the lack of 
built-in ADSL modem limits its appeal 
Features *** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** r* 



Overall 



***** 



Price £199 (500GB) 

Contact Apple 0800 048 0408 
www.apple.com/uk 
Specifications 802.11n • 500GB 
hard drive • 3 Gigabit Lan ports • 
1 Gigabit Wan port • 1 USB2 port • 
WPA2/Wep • 197x197x36mm 
(wxdxh) • 1.6kg 



GRAPHICS CARD 



Palit Geforce 9600GT 512MB Sonic 

A great card for those on a tight budget 




Sonic is the name Palit gives to its overdocked 
graphics card range, the latest of which features 
Nvidia's G94 core, better known as the 9600GT. 
It's the first of Nvidia's Geforce 9 generation and, 
somewhat unusually, it hasn't been launched with an 
expensive, game-crunching card but instead with a 
more humble midrange model. 

Don't let this fool you though - just like the 
8800GT before it, the 9600GT offers excellent value 
for money. 



The G94 is built on a 65nm process and is basically 
a cut-down version of the G92 8800 and GTS cards, 
but with fewer yet faster-clocked stream processors. 

The 9600GT comes with 64 stream processors as 
standard, clocked at 1,625MHz. It also features a core 
running at 650MHz and 512MB of GDDR3 running via 
a 256-bit interface at 900MHz (1 .8GHz effective). 
However, Palit has upped these specs with its Sonic 
version. The core speed has been tweaked 50MHz to 
run at 700MHz, while the memory clock has been 
boosted to produce 1GHz (2GHz effective) - 100MHz 
faster than the reference clock. 

Palit has also changed the cooler on the 9600GT 
Sonic; the reference design is replaced by the copper 
radial cooler seen on previous Sonic models. This turns 
the 9600GT into a two-slot card, but the extra space it 
takes up is used to good effect. 

The big surprise with the Sonic is the number of 
outputs it has, especially given its low price. You get 
two dual-link DVI ports, along with an optical S/PDIF 
and HDMI ports. There's also a Displayport socket, 
something rarely seen on graphics cards. 

It might not top our performance tables, but this 
card from Palit is excellent value for money and is 
loaded with features. Simon Crisp 



"^^ ^"^ 



BEST BUY ■REeOMIIIEHDED 



Verdict 



Pros Great value for money; range of 

outputs; performance 

Cons Palit's cooling turns it into a 

two-slot design 

Overall Just like the 8800GT before 

it, the 9600GT offers plenty of bang 

for your buck, and Palit's Sonic adds a 

host of extra features 

Features ***** 

Performance **** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £121.32 

Contact Palit www.palit.biz 
Specifications Nvidia Geforce 
9600GT GPU • 700MHz core clock • 
2GHz memory clock • 512MB 
GDDR3 • HDMI, Displayport, optical 
S/PDIF and two dual-link DVI ports 



62 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



PERIPHERALS < REVIEWS 
SOUNDCARO 

Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 

An impressive high-end, all-purpose soundcard 




This soundcard is a bit 
special because it is built 
around one of Creative's 
X-Fi audio processors - the same 
chip that sits at the heart of all of 
Creative's latest cards. 

Auzentech is the first company 
that Creative has allowed to make 
use of its X-Fi chip in this way. 
Like Creative's own cards, this one 
has great support for gaming 
surround-sound formats. It fully 
supports FAX (including FAX 
Advanced HD5.0, thanks to the 
64MB of onboard X-Ram), 
OpenAL and CMSS-3D 
headphone surround sound. It also 
comes with Creative's Alchemy 
drivers, which allow Windows 
Vista users to get surround-sound 
support on older Direct Sound- 
based FAX games. 

The card also features the 
excellent X-Fi Crystalizer 
technology, which does a great 
job of adding some of the oomph 
back into compressed MP3 and 
WMA music tracks. Plus, the card 
works a treat with music 
applications, thanks to the 
low-latency Asio 2.0 drivers. 

But this is no mere Creative 
clone. Perhaps the biggest bonus 
on offer here is that the Prelude 
can encode surround-sound 
formats into Dolby Digital Live or 
DTS formats. This means that the 
audio can be sent to surround- 
sound speakers via a single digital 
audio cable; it works well and is 
much less hassle than having to 



hook up lots of different analogue 
cables. As well as this, Auzentech 
has improved the quality of the 
internal audio circuitry by using 
higher grade components and 
including high-performance 
digital-to-analogue converters. 
The end result is even cleaner and 
warmer sounding audio. 

It all means that the Prelude is 
one of the best general-purpose 
soundcards we've heard. It might 
be a bit more expensive than the 
average soundcard, but the great 
audio quality, excellent surround- 
sound support and good music- 
creation features make it worth the 
extra outlay. Niall Magennis 



Verdict 



Pros Great sound quality; excellent 
driver support; onboard Dolby Digital 
Live and DTS encoding 
Cons Overkill for mainstream market 
Overall If you're into audio you'll 
find that this card's excellent sound 
quality and great range of features 
make it worth the money 
Features ***** 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money **** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £129.99 

Contact Auzentech 
www.auzentech.com 
Specifications 

Playback: Stereo/Surround 

24-bit/96KHz 

Recording: Stereo 24-bit/96KHz • 

Mic In, line in, S/PDIF combo in • 

7.1 analogue surround-sound out, 

S/PDIF out 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



63 




Experience the 



phenomena 




AMD^ 



REVIEWS > PERIPHERALS 



AUDIO INTERFACE 



Terratec DMX 6Fire USB 



External audio system for gamers and DJs, but audio enthusiasts will be left wanting 




Despite the word 'fire' in 
the name, Terratec's latest take on budget 
audio/Midi I/O is USB2, not Firewire. 
Also, the ticket places it roughly in the category 
of competing Edirol, M-Audio and various other 
semi-pro interfaces. It has no OSX drivers, a single 
phantom-powered combo XLR mic input and, around 
the back, every line-audio connection is phono, all 
unbalanced, by definition. It's clear, immediately, that 
this is not a device aimed at the project-studio 
enthusiast or audio pro. 

We're in DJ territory, and the DMX makes that 
quite plain by including something curiously lacking in 
many audio devices. This device used to be a PCI card, 
but now it uses USB2 and an external power supply to 
fire audio into the high-def 192KHz/24-bit range. 



What really gives the game away, however, is a 
ground terminal for turntables - as does the 
prime placing of a socket for headphones. 
While catering for the needs of surround-sound- 
addicted gamers, or movie fans, the DMX is a 
gizmo very well suited towards cash-strapped 
disc jockeys. 
The build quality is good, as is the -20dB-paddable 
(high-Z) instrument input. Optical, alongside coaxial 
digital, I/O is also commendable. But the paucity of 
balanced-audio connectivity is a mistake. It almost 
makes the Midi sockets look redundant since few DJs 
will use them. 

The DMX 6Fire is a DJ tool. It seems capable of 
withstanding the rigours of club use and would make a 
handsome surround solution for home-entertainment 
buffs. But we would not recommend it for recording or 
Midi-sequencing enthusiasts. You need balanced audio 
connectors, and possibly more Midi options, in which 
departments the DMX falls short. 

If you are a vinyl-wielding DJ, possibly driving a 
pair of Technics turntables or Nl Traktor and physical 
interfaces, then you will appreciate the audio clarity, 
robustness and straightforwardness of Terratec's 
audio interface. Karl Foster 



Verdict 



Pros Good-value surround 
capabilities; at least one balanced 
audio in with phantom power; 
ground terminal for decks 
Cons Main audio l/Os are coaxial 
phono (unbalanced); no Mac drivers 
as yet; a single XLR/TRS audio in 
Overall Home-recording enthusiasts 
will want more, but gamers and DJs 
will appreciate its sturdiness, sound 
quality and connectivity 
Features ***** 

Performance *** * 

Value for money *** r* 



Overall 



***** 



Price £199-99 

Contact Terratec www.terratec.net 
Specifications USB2 • Mic input • 48V 
phantom power • -20dB pad switch • 
Instrument input with gain control 
(6.3mm jack) • Four analogue inputs 

• Phono input • Six analogue outputs 

• Headphone jack (6.3mm) • Optical 
and coaxial digital input/output • 
Midi interface 



Smaller IS BettG T 

QLX Pro Ministation Thin Client 

Up to 30 Simultaneous Users On One PC 



Thin Clients are cheaper, quieter, easier to manage and more secure 
than standard PCs. The idea is that the Thin Client has just enough 
resources to connect to a PC sen/er or workstation and draw the 
users screen over the network. It's cheaper to manage, because 
Thin Client hardware doesn't need to be updated anywhere near as 
often as traditional desktop PC's - a typical PC has a usefiji life of 
around 1 year and is full of complicated parts that can fail. Thin 
Clients, on the other hand, are extremely simple devices with no 
moving parts, and because all the memory, processing power and 
storage comes from the server, looking after multiple desktop 
machines has become an unnecessary expense. The average PC 
consumes around 400 watts compared with only 5 watts by the QLX 
Pro Ministation. Connect up to 10 users with Windows 2000/XP and 
UD to 30 users with Windows Server* 



For More Information : Visitwww.qlxpro.com or Call 01702 512746 





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64 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



PERIPHERALS < REVIEWS 



DIGITAL CAMERA 



Pentax Optio A40 

A 12-megapixel compact that's loaded with features 




Compared with the current crop of 12-megapixel 
cameras, the Optio A40 sits at the higher end 
of the price range, so we were expecting big 
things from it to justify the cost. The first feature 
worth noting is the SR (Shake Reduction) tool. Using 
a sensor inside the camera, the SR mechanism shifts 
the CCD to compensate for camera shake (usually a 
problem when shooting at full zoom). You can either 
set it to leap in when required or, by pushing the 
Preview button on the top of the camera, activate 
it yourself. 



Pentax has also included a dynamic-range 
compensation tool, the idea being that, when enabled, 
it boosts under-exposed areas of an image without 
affecting the rest of the scene. Although it worked to 
an extent during testing (dark areas were indeed 
brightened up), the sacrifices made, such as increased 
image noise, often outweighed the benefits. 

The Optio A40 includes some advanced features, 
including a live histogram and both a shutter priority 
and manual mode, although strangely there's no 
aperture priority mode. Face recognition is also present, 
allowing the Optio A40 to detect faces and ensure 
they're exposed properly and in focus. 

In general, image quality is good. Colours are 
vibrant and the camera usually makes a good 
judgement on the exposure. It did, however, have a 
tendency to select a higher ISO than required, resulting 
in some unnecessary image noise. And, as we've seen 
from Pentax cameras before, it loses focus slightly at 
the top-left corner of the frame, but you're unlikely to 
notice this outside of your image editor. 

Although some of the Optio A40's features didn't 
always deliver perfect results, others, such as the SR tool, 
worked very well, making it a genuine contender in the 
high-end compact market. Will Stapley 



Verdict 



Pros Good colour accuracy; small and 

light; plenty of features 

Cons Some exposure issues; 

occasionally opts for unnecessarily 

high ISO settings 

Overall Some minor issues, but on 

the whole this is a decent high-end 

compact 

Features ***** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



***** 



Price £219 

Contact Pentax 0870 736 8299 
www.pentax.co.uk 
Specifications 12 megapixels • 
1/1. 8in CCD • 2. Sin LCD monitor • 
3x optical zoom (38-1 14mm, 35mm 
equivalent) • 1/2,000-4 sec shutter 
speed • ISO 64-3200 • 30fps movie 
mode • 22MB built-in memory • 
SD/SDHC card slot • 89x23.5x57mm 
(wxdxh) • 130g 



DIGITAL CAMERA 



Ricoh R8 

An updated design with excellent ease of use and reasonable pictures 




The compact R-series from Ricoh regularly gets 
updated, usually keeping the design much the 
same. However, the new R8 makes something 
of a stylistic departure from its forebears. 

It's slightly larger than its predecessor, the Caplio 
R7, although the overall feel and build quality is much 
better. There's also an increase in sensor resolution 
from eight to 10 megapixels. 

The R8 is pleasingly simple to use, with a 
functional design, intuitive mode dial and simplified 
menu layout; you won't have to search through 
endless menus as all the key operations are readily 
available during shooting. Its features have been pared 



down to avoid clutter, while important options such as 
face-recognition and anti-shake are retained. 

The R8's more traditional approach to control 
comes in the form of a zoom-control lever mounted 
on the shutter release button, while a rubberised grip 
has been provided on the right-hand side, allowing 
the control buttons to now fall more naturally under 
the thumb. 

The main four-way controller can be clicked to 
bring up an on-screen overlay, from which you can 
adjust parameters such as exposure compensation, 
ISO and white balance without taking your eye off 
the subject. 

A 2.7in TFT display graces the rear. It's especially 
clear and sharp thanks to its 460,000-pixel resolution, 
which provides twice the detail we're used to seeing on 
this sort of camera. 

One minor quibble is that the selected shooting 
mode isn't displayed on this TFT, so you have to check 
the top of the camera before shooting. 

When it comes to image quality, we were neither 
overly impressed nor disappointed: We have seen 
better from compact cameras, but also a lot worse, and 
the R8's excellent ease of use should help you achieve 
some pleasing photos. Paul Monckton 




BEST BUY 



Verdict 



Pros Easy to use; good build quality; 
high-resolution display; fast operation 
Cons Lack of mode information on 
LCD; no manual exposure modes 
Overall An impressive compact with 
a well-balanced feature set and 
excellent build quality 
Features ***** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £249.99 

Contact Ricoh 020 8261 4000 
www.ricoh.co.uk 

Specifications 10-megapixel CCD • 
1/2. 3in sensor • 7.1 x optical zoom 
(28-200mm, 35mm equivalent) • 1cm 
macro • 1/2,000-8 sec shutter speed 
• 2.7in monitor with 460,000 pixels • 
24MB internal memory • 640x480 
movies at SOfps • USB2 • 
102x26.1x58. 3mm (wxdxh) • 168g • 
Two-year warranty 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



65 



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ACCESSORIES < REVIEWS 




Maplin USB2 to Sata/IDE Adapter 

Price £39.99 Contact www.maplin.co.uk Overall *** ?^ ^ 

This combo adapter supports both Sata and IDE hard disk types in both 
notebook and desktop hard drive sizes, whereas external enclosures can 
only handle one size and type at a time. 

This combo adapter can even accept both types of hard drive (Sata 
and IDE) at the same time. We tested it with a Blu-ray optical drive and 
notebook hard disk, both attached at the same time, and performance 
was excellent. 

On the downside, its data and power wires are exposed in an ungainly 
manner and its 20cm USB cable is too short in most instances. It's also 
twice the price of a dedicated enclosure, but is more versatile. Emil Larsen 
Overall Expensive, but ideal for hard drive addicts 



Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 

Price £54.99 Contact www.microsoft.com/uk Overall **** 



Microsoft's Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 is a stylish affair that sits 
comfortably in the hand and glides smoothly across the desk. A small 
docking station recharges the battery, but we found you need to be very 
precise when placing the mouse on the dock. The wireless connection is 
provided by a small 2.4GHz USB stick. 

The two traditional buttons are joined by a smooth-scrolling wheel, 
which itself has three button actions, and two thumb-operated buttons - 
Microsoft says they're for one-touch magnification and Vista's Flip 3D tool, 
but the included software lets you reassign them. The extra buttons are 
well positioned, so you're unlikely to press them by accident. Will Stapley 
Overall A well-designed mouse but there are cheaper alternatives 





Autosafe Cubebyte 

Price £22 Contact www.cubebyte.com Overall ***** 

Almost all notebooks come with small slots designed for Kensington locks, 
allowing them to be secured to non-moveable items such as fixed tables 
and desks. However, slight variances in the size of the slot means all locks 
will not fit all notebooks. Cubebyte attempts to solve this problem by using 
a lock that adjusts to the size of any slot - two steel bars fill the lock when 
you turn the key. 

As with all Kensington locks, the Cubebyte is really only of use if your 
notebook is nearby but out of sight. If a thief is out of earshot, such as in 
your home while you're away, it won't take long to break it using brute 
force, although the notebook may suffer some damage. Will Stapley 

Overall A good design for all sizes of Kensington lock slots 



3rd Space FPS Vest 

Price £149.95 Contactwww.firebox.com Overall*** k 

The 3rd Space FPS Vest looks like a bulletproof jacket, but with a USB port 
and a pump attached. 

This gaming accessory hides a series air pockets, front and back, that 
expand rapidly to jab your body when you get shot during a game. It 
never hurts, but ticklish members of the PCW team simply burst out 
laughing when shot. 

We played Call of Duty 2 (included in the box), where the vest jabs 
from the front when you get injured and jabs all over as you die. The 
pump that refills the air pockets is very noisy and it currently only supports 
nine games, but they are all top titles. Emil Larsen 

Overall Great fun for short stints and everyone will want a go 




June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



67 



REVIEWS > COMPONENTS 



PC Essentials 



Our pick of the latest components and accessories 




A-Data Vitesta DDR2-1066+ Extreme Edition 
Price: £71,95 
www.memoryc.com 
Overall: **** 

A-Data produces a huge range of memory products, including fast 
desktop memory modules. The DDR2-1066+ Extreme Edition 2GB 
memory kit is part of its Vitesta performance range and comprises two 
1GB sticks of DDR2-1, 066MHz memory rated at 5-5-5-15 (1,066MHz) 
or 4-4-4-12 (800MHz). 




OCZ ATV 32GB 
Price: £88.07 
www.ocztechnology.com 
Overall: **** 

If you need plenty of storage in a neat, easy-to-carry and 
robust format, OCZ's high-speed ATV 32GB USB2 Flash drive 
will definitely appeal. It comes in a shock-resistant and 
waterproof rubber housing to protect it from everyday and 
not-so-everyday bumps and scrapes. 



\( 




Akasa AK-965BL 
Price: £17.95 
www.akasa.co.uk 
Overall: **** 

Although Akasa's AK-965 is a popular CPU cooler for 
Intel's Socket 775 processors, it's not the most exciting 
cooler you've ever seen. Now it has a flashier sibling - 
the AK-965BL. It comes with a clear fan frame lit by 
four blue LEDs, while the blades of the 92mm light up 
bright blue when the cooler is working. 



68 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000 
Price: £375.99 
www.crucial.com/uk 
Overall: ***** 

Crucial has been quite late to the table with its 

DDR3 memory modules, but it's making up for lost 

time with the latest addition to the 

performance Ballistix range coming 

in the shape of PC3-1 6,000 

(DDR3-2,000MHz) 

modules. The modules 

have 9-9-9-28 timings 

at 1.9V along with 

support for EPP 2.0. They're 

also certified as SLI- ready. 



COMPONENTS < REVIEWS 




Freecom Toughdrive Pro 250GB 
Price: £101.05 
www.freecom.com 
Overall: **** 

Small and light, Freecom's Toughdrive Pro 250GB not only 
comes with a huge capacity (for a 2.5in hard drive) but 
provides a good deal of physical protection for your data. It has 
a soft, silicone cover that can withstand a drop of two metres and there 
is a built in anti-shock mechanism. It also draws all the power it needs via the 
USB2 bus. 



Cyberpower Value 1500E-GP 
Price: £252.63 

www.cyberpowersystems.com 
Overall: *** 

If the doom-watchers among us are right 
then a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) 
may become an essential item in the home. 
Cyberpower's UPS, the Value 1500E-GP is 
aimed at home office users. The 1500E-GP 
uses Cyberpower's Green Power technology 
to reduce power consumption, has a capacity 
of 900W and comes with a useful 
Windows-based management utility. 





OCZ Vanquisher 
Price: £13.23 
www.ocztechnology.com 
Overall: *** 

The enticingly named Vanquisher from OCZ is a 
CPU cooler with three copper heatpipes. It supports 
both Intel LGA775 and AMD AM2, 939 and 754 
sockets; the AMD fixing bracket comes in the box, 
although you have to remove the Intel fastener 
before you can use it. Airflow is provided by a 
ceramic-bearing 92mm fan. 



Hiper HFF-1N12N Transparent 
Price: £4.99 
www.hipergroup.com 
Overall: *** 

The Transparent range of Hyperflow case fans is, as 
you might expect from the name, made using clear 
plastic. Models are available in 120mm and 80mm 
(£2.98) sizes. The 120mm nine-blade fan has a spin 
speed of 1,500rpm and a noise level of 19dBA. The 
fan comes with a 3-pin power connector, but a 3-pin 
to 4-pin Molex adapter is included in the box. 



/ 



** 




June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



69 



$heovo 



THE DISPLAY CHOICE 
OF PROFESSIONALS 




X 



NOT ALL 

WIDESCREENS ARE 

CREATED EQUAL 



NeoY 



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AG Neovo's new X- and E-Series widescreen displays, fea- 
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to protect your widescreen investment. 




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SOFTWARE < REVIEWS 



INTERNET SECURITY 



AYG Internet Security 8 

A revamped interface and extra web surfing protection 



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AVG Internet Security 8 can scan incoming messages to 
help filter out spam, although it does take a while to 
check lots of emails 



Companies developing security software aimed 
at the home market have something of a 
problem on their hands at present. They want 
their software to appear simple and easy to use, but 
equally they need to boast about the level of 
protection offered. AVG, along with most of its 
competitors, appears to be shifting to the latter. 

Although the revamped interface looks much slicker 
than previous versions, the first screen you're 
presented with has no fewer than 12 different icons, 
each indicating a different security module of the suite. 
Joining the usual anti-virus, firewall and anti-spam are 
anti-rootkit, Web Shield and Linkscanner. 

By default, a full computer scan will check for all 
threats (be they viruses or spyware). The only 
exception is a scan for rootkits, which has to be added 
to the schedule manually. Only during these full scans 
did AVG hog our test PC's resources - at other times it 
kept below the radar. 

AVG's anti-virus tool is available free and has a 100 
per cent detection rate certified by the independent 
bodies ICSA Labs and VB100. Like most anti-virus 
packages, it detects viruses both by maintaining a list 
of known threats as well as heuristic scanning that 
detects new viruses based on their behaviour. 

The firewall passed a series of leak tests, both 
closing and hiding ports from prying eyes, and a wizard 
helps novice users by scanning your PC for known 
applications requiring internet access. Once completed, 
you can review the applications AVG has detected. 

AVG's anti-spam component has various features, 
such as the option to automatically remove 
attachments with predefined file extensions or define 
safe senders, but the process of detecting and then 



dealing with spam isn't quite so impressive. We tested 
it on a mailbox containing a mixture of obvious spam 
and genuine emails. Although it caught most of the 
spam, it also flagged up various marketing emails and 
newsletters. What's more, it simply places the text 
'[SPAM]', leaving you to set up a filter to deal with 
them in your email client. We were also disappointed 
at how long it took to scan incoming emails. It's not a 
problem if you've only got a few emails, but retrieving 
a lot will take a while. 

The Linkscanner tool integrates with Internet 
Explorer and Firefox, and consists of two further 
components: Active Surf-Shield and Surf-Shield. The 
former scans pages in real time, warning you if there's 
potentially dangerous link, while the latter works in 
conjunction with popular search engines, placing a 
green tick next to results that are rated as safe. 

AVG Internet Security 8 will set you back £39.99, 
which puts it about £10 cheaper than most rival 
products. However, this only includes one licence 
whereas the standard these days is three. On the AVG 
website you can add more licences, for £10 each, but if 
you go for the maximum of 10 (£149) you'll end up 
paying more than £10 for each one, which seems a 
little odd. 

The software has its strengths, not least a robust 
anti-virus component, but certain elements of AVG 
Internet Security 8 disappoint. The anti-spam could be 
vastly improved, both in terms of the speed it takes to 
scan incoming mail and how spam is dealt with once 
identified. And although the array of components 
indicates comprehensive protection, it also adversely 
affects usability that may confuse those not up to 
speed with the latest security terminology. Will Stapley 



Verdict 



Pros Good anti-virus component; 
wide range of security tools; stylish 
interface 

Cons Poor anti-spam; range of 
protection modules can be confusing; 
multi-licence version is expensive 
Overall Solid protection from viruses 
and other attacks, but the anti-spam 
tool is relatively poor 
Features ***** 

Ease of use *** * 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



*** * 



Price £39.99 (three 
computer licence £59.99) 

Contact AVG 0844 894 1000 

www.grisoft.com 

System requirements 1.2GHz 

processor • 256MB Ram • 70MB hard 

disk space • Windows XP/2000/Vista 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



71 



REVIEWS > SOFTWARE 



WEB DESIGN 

Serif Webplus X2 

Website-creation suite with a strong focus on design 




Web design falls into one of two camps: 
the first type designs the entire site, 
including content and design, in one 
place, the other designs a select few templates and 
relies on content management software to put 
articles in place. Webplus falls firmly in the former 
camp, but this does not mean that it passes up on 
the latest design possibilities. 

We were pleased to find that layout uses CSS, not 
tables. This helps keep the layout of the pages as simple 
as possible, making them more accessible to mobile 
browsers and visible to search engines. The formatting 



information set with CSS is embedded in each page, 
which is a slight disappointment as using an external 
style sheet helps keep file sizes down. 

Several master pages can be created as templates, 
helping to keep a consistent look across a site. The site 
manager tool is also useful for planning, and 
navigation bars can be created automatically. 

The design heritage is clear from the ability to link 
text boxes together to flow copy from one to the 
other. There is even an automatic flow tool for creating 
as many boxes as are required on following pages. 
There are also plenty of attractive text tools with 
effects, including flowing text along lines. 

There is a blog tool, but it can only be updated 
from within Webplus and is rather inflexible in design, 
as is the RSS viewer. 

You can also insert HTML code fragments, which 
will come in handy when using tools that require small 
snippets of HTML, such as Google Analytics. 

Ecommerce is supported for accounts with Paypal, 
Romancart and Mais, and HTML forms can be inserted 
for reader feedback. 

Webplus would suit sites with relatively static 
content, but if you frequently update or have several 
contributors, there are better options. Tim Smith 



Verdict 



Pros Plenty of tools for attractive 
design; ecommerce tools; uses CSS 
Cons Geared towards static content 
Overall Works best when creating 
static sites and would suit those with 
a design background 
Features *** * 

Ease of use *** r* 

Value for money *** r* 



Overall 



***** 



Price £60 

Contact Serif 0800 376 7070 

www.serif.com 

System requirements Pentium 

processor or faster • 256MB Ram • 

389MB hard disk space • Windows 

2000/XP/Vista 



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72 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



SOFTWARE < REVIEWS 



PARENTAL CONTROL 



Webroot Parental Controls 

Block inappropriate content and restrict access to the internet 




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Parental Control lets you specify the exact times 
when your computer can and cannot be used 



Controlling what children get up to on a 
computer is guaranteed to challenge even the 
most experienced of systems administrators, let 
alone devoted parents. Even with the various extra 
controls that are built into Windows Vista, undesirable 
sites can slip through the net. 

Parental Controls, from Webroot, does a very good 
job of giving an extra level of control, beyond what is 
already included with Windows Vista. 

Creating user accounts in Windows is the only way 
to differentiate between members of the family and 
Parental Controls takes the sensible decision to use 
these Windows accounts, rather than demanding a 
separate username and password to access the internet 
- something that can result in the software being 
removed altogether. 

The accounts are conveniently integrated into the 
Parental Controls interface, so there is no need to keep 
switching backwards and forwards. The only limitation 
is that the options only become available after the user 
has logged for the first time; however, this only adds a 
couple of minutes to the one-off setting-up process. 
A special account is created to allow you to alter the 
software settings - this is required since it is not 
possible to change the settings for the account that 
that is currently logged in. There are five templates for 
user accounts, covering different age ranges. 

The most obvious control requirement is web 
filtering, and Parental Controls comes with a one-year 
subscription for updates. There are more than 60 
different categories that are well thought out and, 
should you need to, individual sites can be added to 
the block list on an ad-hoc basis. You can also add 
keywords to the block list. 



Control over programs is important and this is laid 
out by the Start Menu, making it easier to find and 
control access to all the various programs installed on 
your PC. Furthermore, many users will want to impose 
certain restrictions on what users can get up to within 
the Windows environment. Accessing the Task 
Manager or Command Prompt are common ways of 
getting around restrictions, and Webroot Parental 
Control can block these and more. Drives can also 
be blocked, although blocking optical drives is less 
important with the boom in USB memory sticks. 
Access to the Add/Remove Programs section in the 
Control Panel can be restricted, so certain users won't 
be able to install or remove software, and you can 
even instruct the program to block attempts to log on 
to websites by entering their address into the Windows 
Explorer address bar. 

Parental Control lets you specify the times when 
the computer can be used. While we don't agree with 
the claim that setting the computer to automatically 
log children out of the computer at dinner or bedtime 
will prevent arguments, it at least puts the power back 
in the hands of the parent. 

Should you want to temporarily lift some 
restrictions, single-use passwords can be granted 
which, when entered, can perform actions such as 
extending the amount of time allowed on the 
computer or temporarily allowing for extra software 
to be used. 

Prevention is often better than cure, but it is still 
helpful to be able to see what children have been up 
to. Webroot Parental Control can compile reports on 
a variety of activities and these can be emailed to a 
specific address. Tim Smith 



Verdict 



Pros Makes use of Windows user 

accounts; variety of protection and 

control features 

Cons Only a one-year web filter 

subscription 

Overall Comprehensive software for 

any computer owner wanting better 

control over what their users do, be 

they children or adults 

Features ***** 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



***** 



Price £25 

Contact Webroot 0845 0822 498 

www.webroot.com 

System requirements 133MHz 

processor • 128MB Ram • 5MB hard 

disk space • Windows XP/Vista 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



73 



REVIEWS > SOFTWARE 



IMAGE CAPTURE 

Topaz Moment 3.4 

Grab impressive-looking images from video footage 




Precious moments can can be fleeting and, 
sometimes, with a regular camera, it's easy to 
miss the vital moment; your finger is just about 
ready, and then the scene has gone. 

Videography offers more real-time potential, but 
with lousy resolution, clarity and sharpness. Many 
modern camcorders have a high-resolution stills- 
capture mode that can be used while shooting video, 
but it's easy to forget to fire and extracting a frame 
later from video is often unrewarding. Topaz Labs has 



developed still-capture software that can extract a 
photographic image from a video sequence. Moment 
3.4 promises to extrapolate a sharp photo print from a 
plethora of video formats (including AVI, MPEG, 
Quicktime and more) by the simple expedient of 
analysing a neighbouring sequence of seven frames 
and then turning them into a relatively super-sharp still. 

Results are impressive. In no way do they 
approach the definition of a modern digital SLR, but 
you can certainly haul the low-resolution output of a 
consumer-type 4:3 digital camcorder into something 
printable at 6x4in. 

Disappointingly, while working with the output of 
an inexpensive, standard-definition Panasonic 
camcorder, the capture appeared squashed due to 
Moment messing with aspect ratio. It's easy to work it 
up in Photoshop, but that's another editing process and 
leads to further image-noise. Also, output choices are 
limited to BMP and JPEG - there's no TIFF option. 

Nevertheless, this video frame-grabber handles 
many video codecs, has a wealth of image-enhancing 
tools and could well supplant the capture software of 
whatever was bundled with your camcorder, such is its 
ease of use. Moment 3.4 is elegant, lives up to its 
promise and is great value. Karl Foster 



Verdict 



Pros Very easy to use; multiple-frame 
analysis function; supports many 
video formats 

Cons Only BMP and JPEG output; 
output quality may be inadequate for 
some 

Overall A good job by Topaz, giving 
hope to photographers seeking 
sharper definition from extracted stills 
Features *** * 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price $39.99 (£20 approx) 

Contact Topaz Labs 

www.topazlabs.com 

System requirements 1GHz 

processor • 256MB Ram • Windows 

2000/XP/Vista 



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74 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



GAMES < REVIEWS 



ADVENTURE GAME 

Lost: The Video Game 

Fun while it lasts, but not challenging 




Television programmes tend not to get the 
computer game treatment as frequently as 
feature films do and there's probably a good 
reason we never see desktop adaptations of 
Coronation Street or Antiques Roadshow. 

As it happens, however, the desert island drama 
Lost lends itself well to games. Anyone familiar with 
the show will know that it follows the misfortunes of 
Oceanic Flight 815's survivors as they deal with the 
tropical trials and tribulations of life after a plane 
crash, along with the perils of secret hatches, gaseous 
cloud monsters and, of course. The Others'. 



The game's so-called episodes slot neatly into the 
programme's timeline somewhere during the show's 
first two series. Perhaps wisely, Lost's creators have 
steered away from putting you in control of any of the 
main characters, although most of the original cast can 
be seen here in computer-generated glory. 

Instead, you play a hitherto unseen member of the 
ill-fated aircraft's passenger manifest, a photographer 
suffering from amnesia. The gameplay is easy to pick up 
and follows an action -adventure theme, with puzzle 
solving, exploration, basic combat and a lot of interaction 
with other characters. Memory loss plays a big part, as 
you piece together your past via flashback sequences. 

While some of the computer-generated characters 
appear more convincing than others, the jungle looks 
amazing. Sound effects, voice acting and music - all 
authentic to the TV show - are also good. Though fun 
while it lasts, the game is neither very challenging nor 
particularly lengthy. Whether you enjoy your time on 
the island will largely depend on your feelings for the 
show itself: public opinion of the programme seems to 
be split between fervent appreciation and utter 
bewilderment. As such. Lost: The Video Game is likely 
to have a niche appeal and is unlikely to win the series 
any new fans. Jonathan Parl<yn 



Verdict 



Overall Impressive visuals and audio, 
but this is definitely a game with 
niche appeal 



Overall 



***** 



Price: £30 

Contact Ubisoft www.lostgame.com 
System requirements 2.4GHz 
processor • 1GB Ram • 5GB hard 
disk space • 128MB graphics card 
(DirectX 9) • DVD drive • Windows 
XP/Vista 



SPORTS SIMULATOR 



Speedball 2 - Tournament 



After almost 20 years, the cult hit returns 



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The original Speedball arrived on the Amiga back 
in the late 1980s. A couple of years later, 
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe was released and 
became an instant cult hit. Now, after almost two 
decades, we have Speedball 2 - Tournament. 

Set in the future, two teams of nine are pitted 
against each other in an indoor arena. With very 
few rules, it's basically a case of score as many goals 
as you can. As in previous versions, it's a fairly 
violent affair, and if an opposition player gets in 
your way there will be no punishment for a swift 



punch in the face - 
extra points. 

Although it doesn't take long to master the 
basics, scoring a goal proved difficult at first. 
That was until we discovered that by running 
up to the goalie and making a quick change of 
direction we could easily circumnavigate him 
and literally run the ball into the back of the 
net. In our first competitive match we scored 
12 goals to the opposition's one. We restarted 
the game using the highest difficulty setting 
but, with our new-found skills, by half time we 
had more than doubled our previous goal tally. 
Worse still, members of the other team didn't 
seem interested, often running away from the action 
rather than making a tackle. The Team Management tool 
lets you enhance your players' abilities, but there are few 
options to play around with and it makes little difference 
in single-player mode. 

Thankfully there's an Online multiplayer alternative, 
and it's here where most of the game's appeal lies. 
But although team management can give you an edge 
over the opposition, with such a basic set of controls 
and few interesting features this game will not hold 
your interest for long. Will Stapley 



Verdict 



Overall Good for an instant 
adrenaline hit, but it has limited 
long-term appeal and a woeful 
single-player mode 

Overall **-ririr 

Price £19-99 

Contact Ascaron Entertainment 
www.speedball2.com 
System requirements 2 GHz 

processor • 512MB Ram • 2GB hard 
disk space • 128MB graphics card 
with Pixel Shader 2.0 • DVD-Rom • 
Windows XP/Vista 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



75 



REVIEWS > BEST BUYS 



Best Buys 

Your one-stop guide to the best-value products reviewed by PCW 




Computer 



BEST BUY 




With countless products available, shopping around for a new 
PC, peripheral or software package isn't an easy task, but 
with our Best Buys you can make a quick purchase with 
confidence. We've split our Best Buys into 40 of the most popular 
categories, covering everything from desktop and notebook PCs right 
through to digital cameras and software. Every month we update our 
Best Buys to include our most recent reviews and check the current 
pricing, although that's not to say you won't find a bargain online (try 
our price comparison site at www.pcw.co.uk/bestprices). You'll also find the 



date of the magazine in which the product was first reviewed, along 
with an alternative suggested product for that category. 

If the Best Buy entry has a web code listed alongside it, it means 
you can read the full product review on our website. Simply head 
online and use the format www.pcw.co.uk/[web code] (for example 
www.pcw.co.uk/2208243). 

Each Best Buy product has gone through our rigorous testing and 
reviewing procedures, making this your one-stop guide to the best 
products on the market. 



BUDGET PC 




Chillblast Fusion Sentinel 

Price: £699 
Reviewed: May 2008 
www.chillbldst.com 
Web code: N/A 

A well built, quiet PC with good all- 
round performance and enough space 
in the case for future upgrades. It 
features an overclocked Intel Core 2 
Quad Q6600 processor and an Nvidia 
Geforce 8800GT graphics card. 



ALTERNATIVE 



Maxdata 300XS Mini PC 

£589 www.pcwb.com Web code: 2209319 

An inconspicuous Vista PC with low power consumption and design that lets you 
attach it direct to the back of a monitor with a Vesa 100 mount. 



BUDGET NOTEBOOK 




ASUS Eee PC 4G 701 

Price: £220 

Reviewed: March 2008 
www.dsus.com 
Web code: 2206346 

It's no speed demon, but the Eee PC 
from Asus is the cheapest laptop 
you'll find. It runs a Linux operating 
system, has easily upgradeable 
components and is incredibly small. 
At this price, it's an absolute steal. 



ALTERNATIVE 



HP Compaq 6715b 

£586 www.hp.com Web code: N/A 

With a 2GHz AMD Turion processor, 2GB of Ram, 160GB hard drive and 15.4in 
screen, this HP Compaq notebook is great value for money. 



HIGH-END PC 



Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 
SLIGX2 

Price: £1,999 
Reviewed: June 2008 
www.cyberpowersystem.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

This PC has an astounding amount of 
power, a great look and premium 
extra features. It's perfect for high- 
resolution gaming and comes with a 
22in TFT, decent keyboard and mouse. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Ultravoilet Genesis XOC 

£4,464.93 www.ultrdvoiletmdchines.com Web code: N/A 

The price may make your eyes water, but it doesn't get much faster than this with 
an overclocked QX6850 and two 8800 graphics cards 




J 



HIGH-END NOTEBOOK 



Toshiba Satellite X200-219 

Price: £1,399 
Reviewed: April 2008 
www.toshibd.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

Thanks to its Core 2 Duo T7500, 
320GB storage and pair of Nvidia 
Geforce 8600GT graphics cards, this is 
a superbly fast notebook. It comes 
with an HD DVD reader, great for 
watching high-definition movies. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Alienware Area-51 m9750 

£2,487.48 www.dlienwdre.co.uk Web code: N/A 

With a 64GB solid-state drive, this Alienware notebook is no slouch. It also has 
two Nvidia Geforce 8700M graphics cards for fast gaming. 




1^ 



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GET THE LATEST PRICES 

Go to www.pcw.co.uk/bestprices 



BEST BUYS < REVIEWS 



ULTRAPORTABLE NOTEBOOK 




ALTERNATIVE 



Lenovo Thinkpad X61 

Price: £1,516 
Reviewed: January 2008 
www.lenovo.com/uk 
Web code: 2199269 

If you're looking for a notebook 
to take on long journeys the 
Thinkpad X61 is the one to go 
for. It features a great screen, 
excellent keyboard and long 
battery life. 



Samsung Q45-A007 

£799 www.samsung.com/uk Web code: N/A 

It might not be the lightest notebook available, but at 2.3kg it certainly won't 
break your back and you'll be rewarded with excellent performance. 



ULTRA-MOBILE PC 






Samsung Q1 Ultra 

Price: £799 

Reviewed: October 2007 


y^^fe 


www.samsung.com/uk 
Web code: 2193548 


^ J^K^ 


This update to the popular Q1 brings 
a Qwerty keyboard, faster processor 
and better battery life. It also has a 
high-quality screen, comes with 
Windows Vista Business and is one of 




the cheaper ultra-mobile PCs. 


'■'^^^ 



ALTERNATIVE 

OQO Model E2 HSDPA 

£1,369.11 www.oqo.com Web code: 2206509 

Not as well designed as Samsung's Q1 Ultra, but the keyboard is bigger and it 
comes with an HSDPA Sim-card slot for high-speed mobile broadband. 



BUDGET GRAPHICS CARD 




ALTERNATIVE 



Pallt Geforce 9600GT 
512MB Sonic 

Price: £121.32 
Reviewed: June 2008 
www.palit.biz 
Web code: N/A 

The G94 GPO used by this card is 
basically a cut-down version of the 
G92 8800 and GTS cards, but with 
fewer yet faster-clocked 
stream processors. 



ASUS EAH2400Pro 

£32.89 http://uk.asus.com Web code: N/A 

This card features low power consumption and, although not as fast as the 
Radeon HD 2400 Pro cards, it's cheap and has some impressive video capabilities. 



HIGH-END GRAPHICS CARD 



Foxconn FV-N88SMCD2-0N0C 

Price: £195 

Reviewed: Christmas 2007 
www.foxconnchannel.com 
Web code: N/A 

You're getting a lot for your money 
with this 320MB card and the 
performance difference between this 
and the more expensive 640MB is 
slight. It comes with a USB joypad 
and a two-year warranty. 




ALTERNATIVE 

EVGA 8800 Ultra Superclocked 

£487 www.evga.com Web code: N/A 

An expensive choice, but it has excellent power usage and therefore more 
headroom for overclocking, which it uses to push the core clock speed to 612MHz. 



TFT (17-22IN) 




ALTERNATIVE 



Philips 220WS8 

Price: £189 

Reviewed: February 2008 
www.philips.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

This 22in TFT screen has superb 
image quality, is evenly lit and, with 
a power draw of just 35W, it's also 
extremely efficient. The icing on the 
cake is Philips' excellent pixel policy. 
A great buy. 



ViewSonic VX2255 

£259 www.viewsoniceurope.com Web code: N/A 

The VX2255's clear and excellent pixel policy along with its multimedia features 
mean it is great value at £259, despite the distinctly average image quality. 



TFT(24IN+) 


Samsung Syncmaster 245B 






Price: £299 

Reviewed: November 2007 

www.samsung.com/uk 

Web code: 2196900 




[• 


?frilTiTi-iCcj 


Featuring accurate colours, a wide 
gamut and an adjustable stand, this 


■ 


World 


Syncmaster 245B is a great-value 


V 


■\^^ 


24in screen in a stylish chassis. It 
also houses VGA and DVI inputs, 
complete with HDCP support. 


■■^VB- It .» .>■ na ^ 1 


^K» 



ALTERNATIVE 

Hazro HZ26W 

£576.82 www.hazro.co.uk Web code: 2202867 

Although a little light on features, this is a high-quality S-IPS panel and excels 
both in terms of build quality and on-screen image quality. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



77 



REVIEWS > BEST BUYS 



PROJECTOR 




Panasonic PI-AX200E 




Price: £1,099 


y 


Reviewed: March 2008 


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www.panasonic.co.ul< 


W -'• h 


Web code: N/A 


^/ ® rjm 


Bright enough for general PC use and 


^ ■■ j^ 


amazing with movies and games, 


k. jW 


Panasonic's PT-AX200E HD projector is 


^. y^r^ 


a wise choice and comes with dual 


^^^W^ 


HDiVll inputs along with excellent 


^^L»W 


Game and Cinema presets. 



ALTERNATIVE 

Benq W500 

£704 www.benq,co.uk Web code: N/A 

At £700 the Benq is something of a bargain and makes for an ideal entry-level 
home projector and features 1080p/24 support. 



SAT NAV 



Tomtom Go 720 

Price: £309 

Reviewed: February 2008 
www.tomtom.com 
Web code: N/A 

You're paying a bit more than you 
might for a number of perfectly 
capable rivals, but you get so much 
for your money with the Tomtom Go 
720, including a customisable display 
and great performance on the road. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Mio 620t 

£269 www.mio-tech.be Web code: N/A 

Mio's new software is impressive and, considering the range of features, it's 
priced competitively. The maps look great and performance is equally good. 




SMARTPHONE 




ALTERNATIVE 



02 XDA Stellar 

Price: £From free 
Reviewed: March 2008 
www.o2.co.uk 
Web code: 2207227 

Available on a number of other 
networks (and Sim-free) this 
smartphone features a slide-out 
display, Qwerty keyboard, built-in 
GPS and Windows Mobile 6. The 
screen also tilts for easier typing. 



Nokia E51 

£From free www.nokia.co.uk Web code: 2200554 

Marketed as a business phone but with Wifi, HSDPA and multimedia tools, such 
as an FM Radio, it's great for corporate and home users. 



DIGITAL CAMERA 






Ricoh R8 

£249.99 

Reviewed: June 2008 
www.ricoh.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

The R8 is simple to use, with a 
functional design, intuitive mode dial 
and simplified menu layout. You 
won't have to search thmugh endless 
menus as all the key operations are 
readily available during shooting. 







ALTERNATIVE 

Pentax Optio A40 

£219 www.pentax.co.uk Web code: N/A 

This 12-megapixel compact camera houses some great features, not least of which 
is the excellent image stabiliser. It also shoots great photos. 



I 



PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER 




ALTERNATIVE 



Sony NWZ-A815 

Price: £89 

Reviewed: January 2008 
www.sony.co.uk 
Web code: 2203060 

It might lack some of the extra 
features found in other media 
players, but this Sony model excels 
in terms of audio quality and is easy 
to navigate. It also comes with a 
decent set of headphones. 



Apple iPod Nano 

£129 www.apple.com/uk Web code: 2199118 

An astonishing design that produces good-quality video and audio. It also 
benefits from excellent battery life. 



MEDIA STREAMER 


Archos IV+ 




Price: £249 


#^*=*^^a^^^ 


Reviewed: May 2008 


^■^^^^^^^^^^^^ 


www.archos.com 


^^^S9^If jH 


Web code: 2210545 


^^^ — ^'^^--- -''JV 


With a 250GB hard drive, this device 


ti^.^ j^^K 


not only streams media across your 


i" ■^■1 ^' 4^V 


network, but will also store content 


^"^^^■■..^ ^^^^^^^F 


for retrieval. It's also a PVR, features 


^""^"^n ^^m 


a Qwerty remote contml and has 


— 


optional web browsing. 





ALTERNATIVE 

Linksys DMA2200 

£229 www.linksys.com Web code: 2208886 

This Media Center extender will stream movies, music and photos from your PC 
with the minimum of fuss. 



78 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



GET THE LATEST PRICES 

Go to www.pcw.co.uk/bestprices 



BEST BUYS < REVIEWS 



LASER PRINTER 




ALTERNATIVE 



Brother HL-21 TOW 

Price: £149 

Reviewed: March 2008 
www.brother.co.uk 
Web code: 2207225 

If you're looking for a good-quality 
mono laser printer for general home 
use, this Brother model is definitely 
worth considering. It's fast, compact 
and even has a wireless adapter. 
A bargain at this price. 



Lexmark XSOOn 

£301 www.lexmark.co.uk Web code: N/A 

An amazingly good-value laser considering it's not only colour but also includes 
a scanner allowing you to scan, copy and print at speed. 



PHOTO PRINTER 


Canon Selphy CP750 

Price: £110 

Reviewed: October 2007 
www.canon.co.uk 
Web code: 2193769 




mcy 


It's a little bulky when in use, but 
this dedicated photo printer can 
produce high-quality prints in less 
than 70 seconds. A 2.4in display lets 
you perform basic image editing 
before printing. 


#1- 


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ALTERNATIVE 

Sony DPP-FP90 

£150 www.sony.co.uk Web code: 2196751 

It's not particularly cheap to run, but this printer produces high-quality photos 
from a variety of sources and is reasonably fast as well. 



MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER 




ALTERNATIVE 



HP PhotoSmart C7280 

Price: £249 
Reviewed: May 2008 
www.hp.com/uk 
Web code: N/A 

Aimed mainly at home office users 
who need both a fax and great photo 
printing. Combine this with high 
quality printing, scanning and copying 
and you've an impressive piece of kit 
on your hands. 



Kodak Easyshare 5500 

£199 www.kodak.co.uk Web code: 219926 

This multifunction device features decent print, copy and scan functions, but it's 
big draw is the low running costs. 



NETWORK-ATTACHED STORAGE 



Qnap TS-209 

Price: £254 

Reviewed: Christmas 2007 

www.qnap.com 

Web code: 2200223 

If you're after a Nas device that does 
more than just share files over your 
network, this is it. You can schedule 
Bit Torrent downloads, stream media 
to UPnP devices and install your own 
drives in it. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Acer Aspire Easystore 

£499 www.acer.co.uk Web code: 2206105 

This Nas device features 2TB of storage (other sizes are available) along with 
wireless so you can place it anywhere in your home. 




POWERLINE NETWORKING 




ALTERNATIVE 



Solwise NET-PL-200AV Push 

Price: £50 

Reviewed: March 2008 
www.solwise.co.uk 
Web code: 2207035 

You'll need at least two of these to 
get your powerline network running, 
but they're the best around. Based 
on the Homeplug AV standard they're 
fast, resilient to electrical noise and 
great value for money. 



Devolo Dian 200 AV 

£149 www.devolo.co.uk Web code: N/A 

Small and well designed, these Devolo powerline devices use the Homeplug AV 
standard and have pre-programmed Quality of Service rules built in. 



WIRELESS ROUTER 


LinksysWAG325N 


/ 


Price: £99.99 


^_ / 


Reviewed: May 2008 


1 ^^/ 


www.linksys.com 


^«. ^ml 


Web code: N/A 


^^M^l 


It might look a little unconventional. 


W^ ^^^m 


but this Draft-N muter fmm Linksys 


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performs extremely well. It also 




features some sophisticated tools 


^^^_ \^^ 


including VPN support and the option 


~^^^^Hf" 


of creating virtual wireless networks. 


^^BH^*^ 



ALTERNATIVE 

Solwise Engenius Wireless-N Gigabit Router 

£120 www.solwise.co.uk Web code: n/a 

It might be a little pricey, but this router performed well in our tests and comes 
complete with some advanced network filtering tools. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



79 



REVIEWS > BEST BUYS 



EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE 1 


^ 




CMSV2ABS-CE-120 


^^^^ ^^H 




Price: £175 


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Reviewed: Christmas 2007 
www.cmsproducts.com 


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Web code: 2202396 




A portable USB2 external hard 


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drive that weighs a mere 150g and 


x^ 




comes with built-in 256-bit AES 
encryption. Inside the case sits a 
2.5in 120GB 5,400rpm Sata 
notebook drive. 



ALTERNATIVE 

Western Digital Mybook Studio 

£204 www.westerndigitdl.com Web code: 2206075 

This stylish 1TB external drive comes with USB2, Firewire 800/400 and eSata 
interfaces for ultimate flexibility. 



INTERNAL HARD DRIVE 


Western Digital WD10EACS 






Price: £185 




■* 


Reviewed: January 2008 




^^^ ^^%^ 


www.westerndigital.com 


i 


^^^P ."-^^ ^ 


Web code: 2203061 

This drive features four 250GB 


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^^^^■^w 


platters to provide 1TB of storage. It 


^ 


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includes some advanced technology 




such as Intelliseek, which calculates 




^^^^myJ' 


optimum seek speeds to lower noise, 




^^m^ 


vibration and power usage 




^^r 



ALTERNATIVE 

Toshiba MK2035GSS 

£79 www.toshiba.co.uk Web code: 2203064 

Weighing just 98g this 200GB 2.5in Sata hard drive is perfect for increasing the 
storage capacity of your notebook. 



AMD MOTHERBOARD 



i§ 


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i 


^^^ 


■^ V 






m 


1 



ALTERNATIVE 



Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 

Price: £60 

Reviewed: June 2008 
www.giga-byte.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

With a wide range of ports, including 
eSata, and a good selection of 
options in the Bios, this is a great 
AMD board. Finally, after two years of 
losing to Intel, AMD's engineers have 
a winner on their hands. 



EQSAB1S-RS690MKM 

£46 www.eqscomputers.com Web code: 2204803 

The cramped design limits upgrade potential, but it's a keenly priced AMD 
motherboard that features an on-board HDMI port for HD video. 



INTEL MOTHERBOARD 








ASUS P5E-VM HDMI 


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Price: £81 


jj& ^h? 


^^^^ 


Reviewed: June 2008 




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http://uk.asus.com 


: .^,^«^-?^ 


^^ff* r 


Web code: N/A 


^^"r^ 


^Pj^fc-^^^^T-. 


This board has a great range of 


"rl^^'K 


.2- -Wi 


features. With the integrated graphics 


^l-ifj 


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enabled, we comfortably overclocked 


If/J^ 


it to 3GHz with our 2.4GHz Core 2 


MdjF 


Quad Q6600 attached, so enthusiasts 




m^ 


should take note of its capabilities. 




^^r 



ALTERNATIVE 

Gigabyte GA-G31MX-S2 

£53 www.giga-byte.com Web code: 2202711 

Considering the price, you get plenty of features on this Intel board, including 
Intel's G31 Express chipset and ICH7 Southbridge. 



PC CASE 




ALTERNATIVE 



Akasa Eclipse-62 V2 

Price: £92.38 
Reviewed: May 2008 
www.akasa.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

It might not have the flashy design of 
some cases, but with the whole case, 
including the roof, able to come 
apart, along with its easily-removable 
motherboard plate, it's the ideal 
chassis enthusiasts and modders alike 



Coolermaster Cosmos 1010 

£139.83 www.coolermaster.com Web code: n/a 

Thanks to its extra-large design, this case not only looks impressive but is also 
very easy to work on and comes complete with temperature probes. 



POWER SUPPLY 


Akasa Powermax 1000 


—A 


Price: £135.11 


^^^- ^^^^M 


Reviewed: March 2008 


. ..«^ ^« 


www.akasa.co.uk 


^ ^_-.'.^ ^ ™ 


Web code: 2207736 


..w ■ '"^Fw- ' ■■^^ 


This 1,000W power supply has two 


^^■^^^^^■a. 


+12V rails and the single 135mm 


■B^^^ ""^ ^ \\\' 


dual-ball bearing fan makes it a 


\ ^^^^^ H' 'nlv 


lot quieter than you would expect. 


X |HL#*'' ^^Si 


It comes with a variety of power 


X bSs^^^^P 


connectors. 


^^VBta^^^r 



ALTERNATIVE 

Enermax Galaxy 1000W 

£233.83 www.enermax.com.tw Web code: 2164011 

The 1,000W Enermax Galaxy power supply will suit those with SLI graphics and 
other power-sapping components, but it comes at a fairly high price. 



80 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



GET THE LATEST PRICES 

Go to www.pcw.co.uk/bestprices 



BEST BUYS < REVIEWS 



OFFICE SUITE 




Professional^^ 



ALTERNATIVE 



Microsoft Office 2007 

Price: £357 
Reviewed: May 2007 
www.microsoft.com 
Web code: 2183475 

The new interface to Office is 
something you'll either like or loathe 
- we like it, but upgrading comes at 
a price, both in cash and in effort. 
Despite this, it's still the leader in 
office productivity software. 



Corel WordPerfect X3 

£276 www.corel.co.uk Web code: 2149856 

This latest version of Corel's office suite includes tools such as PDF exporting 
along with improved compatibility with other office applications. 



SYSTEM UTILITY 


Acronis True Image 11 

Price: £39.99 


1 j j^i^^^s?^ m 


Reviewed: April 2008 
www.dcronis.co.uk 
Web code: 2208669 

True Image 11 is an excellent backup 
and recovery solution that offers an 
unprecedented level of contml over 
disk cloning, scheduled backups and 
secure file deletion. And, despite the 


fl Acronis' 

ll True Image ii Home 


range of features, it's easy to use. L 


M -.^^ti^m 



ALTERNATIVE 

Paragon Hard Disk Manager 

£29.99 www.paragon-software.com Web code: 2205339 

A comprehensive, all-in-one suite of hard disk maintenance and backup tools 
that's easy to get to grips with and comes at a good price. 



IMAGE EDITING 



&l ^D06E 

f Photoshop 
h Elements^ 




ALTERNATIVE 



Adobe Photoshop Elements 

Price: £69 

Reviewed: June 2008 
www.adobe.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

Although the interface could do with 
some work, this is still the best 
image editor currently available for 
home users. With a range of 
advanced tools, it really does help 
you get the best from your photos. 



Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 

£79 www.corel.com Web code: n/a 

A little bit more expensive than its main rival, Photoshop Elements, but Paint Shop 
Pro X2 excels in terms of ease of use. 



VIDEO EDITING 



Pinnacle Studio 11 Ultimate 

Price: £89.99 

Reviewed: November 2007 
www.pinnaclesys.com 
Web code: N/A 

This video-editing package is well 
designed and has powerful video 
tools, advanced audio tweaking and 
an easy-to-use interface. A standard 
version, without the high-definition 
features, is available for £39. 




ALTERNATIVE 

Cyberlink Powerdirector 6 

£49.99 www.cyberlink.com Web code: 2174641 

Although this budget video-editing suite lacks advanced editing tools, it's 
incredibly easy to use and is attractively priced. 



PC SECURITY 



nternet 
Security 






ALTERNATIVE 



Panda Internet Security 2008 

Price: £42.99 
Reviewed: January 2008 
www.pandasecurity.com 
Web code: N/A 

A feature-packed internet security 
suite with fast anti-virus and spyware 
detection tools, including heuristic 
scanning. It also has fast scan times 
and a decent firewall, along with 
backup and PC optimisation features. 



Agnitum Outpost Pro Security Suite 2008 

£30.80 www.agnitum.com Web code: 2204511 

Outpost offers solid protection at a competitive price with fast scanning and a 
quality firewall, though it does lack some extras found in rival suites. 



WEB DESIGN 


Adobe Dreamweaver CSS 


■ ^ WJBEDRti^MWEAVERCSl 




Price: £393 




^K 


Reviewed: July 2007 




■ 




www.adobe.com 




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Web code: 2186591 








Powerful HTML coding and design 








tools along with CSS templates 






and Ajax widgets to help 






non-programmers get started. There's 






also a big emphasis on CSS, including 






a CSS Advisor tool for newcomers. 







ALTERNATIVE 

Microsoft Expression Web 

£260 www.microsoft.com Web code: 2185242 

Expression Web is a very good web-editing suite if you accept the inevitable 
Microsoft bias, featuring CSS support and a powerful interface. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



81 



REVIEWS > BUSINESS BEST BUYS 



BUSINESS PC 


^^^^^^^ 


■ 


Dell Latitude D531 


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3 


Price: £586 


Ul-¥«v^|^ 


^ 


Reviewed: October 2007 


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lA 


www.dell.com 


1 w>* W 


■ 


Web code: N/A 




Pi 


With a dual-core AMD Turion 


■fc^- — -^^ 


s^ 


processor clocked at 1.8GHz, 2GB of 


^^H. ^^^^^ 


^^^ 


Ram and Vista Business, this is a 




^r^j 


good budget model. It also features a 


^^^ 


ip^ ' 


built-in DVD writer, 120GB Sata hard 
disk and both Wifi and Bluetooth. 



ALTERNATIVE 

HP Compaq dc7800 

£598 www.hp.co.uk Web code: 2207533 

The space-saving design of this affordable business desktop is very compelling and 
it can attach directly to an optional HP TFT screen. 



BUSINESS PRINTER 



HP Laserjet P1505n 

Price: £205.63 
Reviewed: June 2008 
www.hp.com 
Web code: N/A 

Compact, stylish and quicker than 
it looks, this Laserjet from HP is 
a very capable small-business 
printer and is stunningly good 
value to boot. It also features an 
integrated network interface. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Zebra PlOOi 

£1,245.50 www.zebracard.com Web code: 2212221 

A great device for small businesses needing to print plastic cards in volume. 
It takes up little desk space and is able to print in full colour. 




NETWORK SECURITY 




ALTERNATIVE 



Smoothwall Smoothguard 
1000-UTM 

Price: £3,231.25 
Reviewed: September 2007 
www.smoothwall.net 
Web code: 2194393 

A comprehensive array of security 
tools, load balancing and failover 
facilities and extensive reporting 
options, mean this network security 
device justifies the high price. 



Webroot Antispyware Corporate 

£22.56 www.webroot.com Web code: N/A 

At this price you get a one-year licence for 10 users, which is great value. It also 
covers two key client security bases in one go. 



NETWORK MANAGEMENT 




lENlghtwatchman 

Price: £14.10 
Reviewed: March 2008 
www.1e.com 
Web code: 2207429 

This piece of software costs very little 
but could save you a lot. Using 
simple command-line controls, it will 
close applications on the PCs on your 
network and then shut the machines 
down to cut your energy bills. 

ALTERNATIVE 

Prefix IT PrefixNE 

£Up to 2.94 per PC per month www.prefixit.com Web code: 2205651 

Easy to install and use, this network management application lets you keep track 
of all the kit on your network and is perfect for small businesses. 



COLLABORATION SOFTWARE 





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Nuance PDF Converter 
Professional 5 

Price: £99 

Reviewed: June 2008 
www.nuance.co.uk 
Web code: N/A 

It may often take second billing to 
Adobe Acrobat, but this latest release 
is cheaper and just as good, if not 
better. The only problem is there are 
so many new tools to learn. 



C2C Archive One Policy Manager 

£40 www.c2c.com Web code: 2212370 

This is a well-conceived and easy-to-implement Exchange storage management 
tool that can enhance performance and even reduce costs. 



BUSINESS ACCOUNTS SOFTWARE 



Microsoft Accounting 2008 

Price: £149 

Reviewed: February 2008 
www.samsung.co.uk 
Web code: 2207529 

A late entrant to the UK accounting 
market. Office Accounting 2008 is easy 
to use, feature-rich and will shake up 
the competition. It also offers in-depth 
integration with Outlook 2007 
Business Contact Manager. 

ALTERNATIVE 

intuit Quickbooks Pro 2008 

£299 www.quickbooks.co.uk Web code: 2203178 

A sensible update to what is one of the most accessible and easy to master 

small-business accounting packages amund, including syncing with Outlook. 




82 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE 
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- Active Directory Integration 



The TeraStation Pro II "is best suited to professional users who require a reliable 
RAID based Network Attached Storage solution with robust features. This cost- 
effective solution offers business-class features including Active Directory 
Integration, DPS Support, Heavy-Duty Power supply and cooling system, quick 
swap SATA hard drives, and a gigabit Ethernet connection. 



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REVIEWS > HOW WE TEST 

^^Personal. 

Computer 

World 



How we test 



Performance testing is an important part of PCWs reviewing process, and to obtain our 
authoritative results we use the UK's best PC testing resource. Here we explain why you can 
trust our results and give you a tour of our most frequently used benchmark programs 



At the core of our PC performance tests are industry-standard 
benchmarks from Bapco and Futuremark. Sysmark 2007 Preview 
is the latest Vista-compatible version in a long line of Bapco 
benchmarks and it allows us, for the first time, to compare the application 
performance of Windows XP and Windows Vista-based systems with the 
same benchmark. It tests real-world application performance by running a 
series of scripts to mimic authentic user tasks. It loads and runs full versions 
of 14 market-leading applications, which are: 



• Adobe After Effects 7 

• Adobe Photoshop CS2 

• Macromedia Flash 8 

• Microsoft Outlook 2003 

• Microsoft Word 2003 



• Adobe Illustrator CS2 • Sketchup 5 

• Autodesk 3ds Max 8 • Sony Vegas 7 

• Microsoft Excel 2003 -WinzipIO 

• Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 

• Microsoft Project 2003 

• Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9 series 

Note that scores from Sysmark 2007 Preview are not comparable to 
scores from previous versions of Sysmark. All scores are relative to the 
Sysmark reference machine, which scores 100 (see below for details). 

In PCWs labs, our staff have over 20 years of combined testing 
experience. We know all the perils and pitfalls of practical benchmarking, 
and we contribute to the development of industry-standard benchmarks 
through our full membership of Bapco (www.bapco.com), the non-profit 
benchmark consortium. Listed below are the main benchmarks we use 
for testing PC systems and components. 

• Bapco Sysmark 2007 Preview - an application-based benchmark that 
tests real-world system performance. 

• Futuremark 3Dmark06 - the latest version of 3Dmark that tests 
DirectX 3D graphics performance. 

• Games - we use built-in benchmarks in Far Cry and Fear to see how 
graphics cards perform in a real-world games. 

• Futuremark PCmark05 - a synthetic benchmark used to test the 
performance of a PC's major subsystems. 

• Test beds - we use standardised AMD and Intel-based test rigs to test 
components and peripherals. 

There's more information about our testing procedures and benchmarks 
on our Labs site at www.reportlabs.com/testbed/bguides/benchmarks.php. 



Performance 

Sysmark 2007 Preview: 200 O 





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score in the region of 9,900. 

O Fear: A score of 60fps (frames per 

second) or higher is most desirable. 

© A result of 30fps or above means 

the machine can produce playable 

frame rates at the tested resolution. 




PCmarkOS measures memory, processor, graphics and hard drive performance 




BDmarkOe is used to test 3D graphics performance 



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84 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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- Complies with Intel Core 2 Duo & AMD Athlon 64 series 

- ATX12V V2,2 / EPS12V V2.91 ready 

- QUAD 4-Channel 12V Rails Design 

- High Efficiency up to 85% 

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"True totat power 

- 20+4Pin connector Design 






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OUTDOOR SAT-NAV DEVICES < GROUP TEST 




The great outdoors 

With an outdoor sat nav you can explore the countryside lil<e 
never before. Cliff Joseph gives six models a run for their money 



Anyone who drives a lot probably has a 
GPS satellite navigation system (sat 
nav) in their car, but these devices have 
many other uses. More and more people are 
also using them for various outdoor activities. 
There are quite a few differences between 
in-car and outdoor sat-nav devices, though. The 
first thing you'll notice is that outdoor models 
tend to be quite a bit more expensive than their 
in-car counterparts. That's because an outdoor 
unit needs to be more rugged so that it can 
cope with rain, snow and the occasional stumble 
along the way. The design also needs to be 



heavily modified so you can hold and control the 
unit with just one hand - even when you're 
wearing thick gloves. 

You'll probably end up buying additional 
maps, too, as the standard basemaps provided 
with most sat-nav devices are, in effect, 
conventional roadmaps that provide little 
information about the open countryside you'll 
be exploring. However, a good outdoor sat nav 
could, quite literally, turn out to be a lifesaver in 
the event of an accident, so it's a worthwhile 
investment for people who like to wander far 
from the madding crowd. 

June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



87 



GROUP TEST > OUTDOOR sat-nav devices 



Garmin Colorado 300 

Price £399.99 Contact Garmin 023 8052 4000 www.garmin.co.uk 




The Colorado 300 is one of Garmin's latest 
top-of-the-range models. It's fairly expensive 
at £399.99, but it's tough, well-designed, 
and crammed with features (it's also much cheaper if 
you shop around online). 

The Colorado is solidly built, waterproof and 
cleverly designed. There are just two buttons on the 
front of the unit, plus a scrolling wheel control device 
- similar to that on an iPod, but padded with tough 
rubber to cope with outdoor conditions. This makes it 



easy to hold the unit in one hand and control all its 
features with just your thumb. The big GPS aerial 
sticking up out of the corner provides extra-sensitive 
reception, so it should be able to pick up the GPS 
signal even if you're thrashing your way through thick 
jungle undergrowth. 

The Colorado includes a complete worldwide street- 
level basemap to get you started, although at this price 
a few additional off-road maps would be welcome. It 
also includes a program called Trip Manager that lets 
you plan trips and create waypoints using the larger 
screen of your computer before transferring the 
information onto the Colorado via USB. 

As well as the usual options for planning trips and 
creating waypoints, the Colorado includes a compass 
(that can even detect the direction you're facing when 
you're standing still), elevation plotting, odometer, and 
an assortment of added extras, such as a calendar, 
calculator and stopwatch. 

The 3in screen isn't the largest in this group, but it's 
clear and sharp when viewing maps and other options. 
Our only real complaint about the Colorado is that the 
backlight for the screen could have been a bit brighter. 

It's probably overkill for the casual hiker, but the 
Colorado 300 is ideal for experienced adventurers who 
like to explore the wilder depths of the countryside. 



Verdict 



Pros Extremely rugged design; good 
control system; wide range of features 
Cons Expensive; no topographic 
maps included 

Overall It's expensive, but the 
Colorado 300 is tough enough and 
versatile enough to cope with the 
most rugged outdoor conditions 
Features ***** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** r* 



Overall 



****^ 



Garmin Etrex Vista HCx 

Price £279.99 Contact Garmin 0238 052 4000 www.garmin.co.uk 




The Etrex Vista HCx is the more casual 
alternative to Garmin's Colorado 300, aimed at 
hikers and other people who don't need such a 
rugged or sophisticated GPS device. 

It's an extremely small unit, barely 11cm tall, 5cm 
wide and just over 3cm thick, and weighing a mere 
156g. It's quite sturdily constructed, though, with 
tough rubber trim to protect it from bumps and 
knocks. The large buttons can all be easily pressed 
with your thumb, and there's a mini joystick just above 



the screen that can be used to move around maps and 
navigate through the various menu options. 

The unit snaps to life quickly, generally getting a 
good lock on the GPS satellite system in about 15-20 
seconds. You can then cycle through the various 
screens by pressing one of the other buttons on the 
unit. As well as the main map screen you can quickly 
view options, such as the compass, or activate the 
Tracklog, which monitors your progress. The Tracback 
option lets you retrace your path once more. 

It's not designed as a sports GPS, but it does have a 
stopwatch, along with a calendar and calculator. It's 
even got a 'Hunting and Fishing' option that tells you 
when you've found a good hunting spot - obviously 
aimed at Marlborough Man wannabees. 

We do have a couple of small complaints, though. 
The manual isn't very helpful and first-time users might 
find themselves randomly clicking buttons for a while 
just to see how everything works. 

And, as with most of these units, the basic 
roadmaps provided with the Vista aren't designed for 
off-road use, so you'll need to buy Garmin's Map 
Source range of add-on topographic maps to really 
make the most of the unit. However, the sturdy and 
compact design of the Vista HCx still makes it a useful 
companion for those long cross-country hikes. 



Verdict 



Pros Rugged design for outdoor use; 
compact and easy to use 
Cons Small screen doesn't show 
much detail; no topographic 
maps included 

Overall A little pricey, but still a good 
option for the casual hiker 
Features *** k 

Performance ***** 

Value for money *** r* 



Overall 



***** 



88 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



OUTDOOR SAT-NAV DEVICES < GROUP TEST 



Magellan Explorist 210 

Price £175.99 Contact Elite UK Electronics 08704 03 02 www.eliteukelectronics.com 




The Explorist 210 is definitely showing its age a 
little, but it's still an excellent entry-level GPS 
for first-time users, or people who don't want 
to spend £200-£300 on one of the more expensive 
devices on offer from its rivals. 

Priced at around £175, the Explorist 210 is the 
cheapest unit in this group. It's light, but quite tough, 
so it's fine for weekend hiking and trekking. 

The eight buttons on the front of the unit might 
look a little confusing at first, but they're all clearly 



marked, so you can easily use them to zoom in and 
out on maps, mark waypoints, or quickly hit the Goto 
button to check a particular location. 

The relatively low price does involve one big 
compromise, though, which is the use of a greyscale 
screen rather than the more attractive colour screens 
found in all the other devices in this group. 

The reddish cast of the backlight is a bit odd, too, 
though it does at least improve the screen's visibility 
in poorer lighting conditions. Our other minor 
complaint is that the unit is slow to start up, taking a 
good couple of minutes to lock on to the GPS signal 
and get a fix on our location. 

A full worldwide basemap is provided with the 
Explorist. This doesn't include much off-road 
information or detail, but it does have a reasonable 
number of points of interest, so you can quickly pick 
up information on local parks and other places of 
interest. There is also a compass included for the more 
experienced navigator. 

Admittedly, you can get in-car GPS systems with 
larger colour screens for a lot less money than this. 
But if you're looking for a tough, handheld GPS for 
outdoor use, then the Explorist 210 is one of the more 
affordable options currently available - even if it is a 
bit basic and lacking in sophistication. 



Verdict 



Pros Compact; tough design; low 

price for an outdoor GPS 

Cons Slow startup; greyscale screen 

Overall The least sophisticated 

device in this group, but still a 

reasonable entry point for newcomers 

to GPS devices 

Features ***** 

Performance ***^* 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



***** 



Magellan Explorist 600 

Price £327.99 Contact Elite UK Electronics 08704 03 02 www.eliteukelectronics.com 




As the name implies, the Explorist 600 is the 
big brother of the entry-level 210 model. Not 
surprisingly, the two models share the same 
basic design, although there are a number of major 
differences - most notably, of course, the £327.99 
price tag of this more expensive model. 

The Explorist 600 has the same compact, handheld 
design as the 210, along with the same set of eight 
buttons on its front panel - all clearly marked so you 
can quickly zoom in and out, mark waypoints, and 



cycle through the various menu screens. The black 
plastic casing is an obvious difference, though, as is 
the colour screen on this model, which is obviously 
easier on the eye than the greyish screen of the 
Explorist 210. 

Another pleasing difference is that the Explorist 
has a built-in rechargeable battery - something that 
even some of its most expensive rivals lack. One 
disappointment, though, was discovering that the 
Explorist 600 shares the 210's relatively slow 
startup time, taking a leisurely two minutes to get 
a good fix on the GPS signal. It's also a shame 
that such an expensive unit doesn't include some 
topographic maps as standard. 

While it's pretty tough, the Explorist 600 isn't quite 
as solidly built as some of the other models in the 
£300-1- price range, such as the Active 10 or Colorado 
300. It should be perfectly adequate for hiking in the 
country, but we'd be inclined to opt for one of these 
other models if we were trekking across rocky or 
mountainous terrain. 

If you're planning a really challenging trip across 
difficult terrain, then we'd recommend one of the 
more rugged models in this group. However, the 
Explorist 600 is a good - if somewhat pricey - option 
for more casual hiking and trekking trips. 



Verdict 



Pros Better screen than the 210 
model; rechargeable battery 
Cons Expensive; small screen 
Overall A good outdoor GPS, but 
not as rugged as some of the other 
models in this price range 
Features ***** 

Performance *** ^* 

Value for money *** * 



Overall 



*** * 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



89 



GROUP TEST > OUTDOOR sat-nav devices 



Road Angel Adventurer 7000 

Price £279.99 Contact Road Angel 01327 855 586 www.roadangel.co.uk 




Unlike all the other GPS devices in this group, 
Road Angel's Adventurer 7000 doubles up as 
both an outdoor GPS and an in-car navigation 
system. We were a little sceptical about this at first, as 
the Adventurer's widescreen design does look as if it 
would be more at home on a car dashboard. In 
contrast, all its rivals have a narrower, more upright, 
design that is intended to be held in the palm of your 
hand. It also has a touchscreen control system, just like 
the one you would find in an in-car system. 



The touchscreen raises a potential problem since 
it's not going to be as rugged as Action Man devices 
such as the Garmin Colorado or Satmap's Active 10. 
If you're planning a trek across rocky terrain, you 
would definitely be better off with one of those 
more robust models. 

However, the Adventurer has been designed with 
outdoor use in mind; it's both waterproof and solid 
enough to cope with a hike across most open 
countryside. It also boasts one important feature that 
sets it apart from all its rivals: it's the only outdoor 
GPS in this group that includes a good set of 
topographic maps, courtesy of Memory-Map. 

In addition to its UK and Eire street maps for car 
navigation, it also includes a 1GB SD memory card 
loaded with 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Landranger 
maps of all the UK's national parks. 

This dual-purpose approach does make sense, as 
you could drive into the countryside using the 
Adventurer as your in-car sat-nav system and then 
remove it when you reach your destination, taking it 
with you as you hike around the countryside. 
Admittedly, it could be a little more solidly built, but its 
versatility will appeal to many weekend hikers, while its 
preloaded Ordnance Survey maps provide better value 
for money than any of its more rugged rivals. 




Verdict 



Pros Versatile in-car and outdoor 
design; bundled OS maps provide 
good value for money 
Cons Not as rugged as some of its 
rivals; widescreen design not ideal for 
a handheld unit; £3.99 monthly 
subscription charge 
Overall It could be a bit more 
rugged, but the versatile Adventurer 
7000 is good value for money 
Features ****>^ 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Satmap Active 10 

Price £299.99 Contact Satmap 0845 873 0101 www.satmap.com 




Satmap's Active 10 claims to be the ultimate GPS 
device for sports and outdoor activities. It's 
certainly an impressive device, and in some ways 
closer to a full-scale PDA than a mere GPS device. 

It uses Windows CE as its operating system and is 
equipped with an ARM 9 processor and 128MB of 
memory. It has a high-quality 3.5in screen that works 
well when viewing photos of points of interest. It can 
even double as an MP3 player if you use its SD card 
slot to transfer music files across from your PC. 



The Active 10 is waterproof and solidly built, 
although we did find the shiny plastic cover that sits 
over the screen is easily marked; replacement covers 
are available at £15 for a pack of three. 

Using the Active 10 is fairly straightforward. The set 
of six buttons placed around the edges of the unit are 
a little fiddly, but like several of these units it also has a 
small joystick that allows you to navigate around maps 
and select menu options fairly quickly. 

The unit uses three AA batteries, but we can't help 
thinking that, for this price, a rechargeable battery 
might have been included as standard. An optional 
Power Bundle, which includes a rechargeable battery, 
mains and car adapters costs an additional £44.99. 

The standard map supplied with the Active 10 is 
fairly basic, too - a simple roadmap of the UK. 
Satmap does sell a wide range of additional maps, 
including national parks and trails, and various 
counties. They're not too expensive, starting at around 
£29.99, although some of the more detailed premium 
maps can cost over £100. 

The Active 10 is a well-designed outdoor GPS. 
It's not the cheapest option in this group, but its 
rugged design and high-quality screen definitely 
make it one of the more attractive units for the 
hardy outdoor walker. 




Verdict 



Pros Very solidly built; high-quality 
screen; wide range of GPS features 
Cons Expensive; only includes basic 
street- level maps 
Overall Powerful hardware and 
features justify the unit's high price 
Features ***** 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



90 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



OUTDOOR SAT-NAV DEVICES < GROUP TEST 



A voyage around sat-nav devices 

Each sat-nav device worl<s in a different way and is suitable for different users, so take a trip 
around the two winners of this group test Road Angel's Adventurer 7000 and Satmap's Active 10 



The small menu bar at the 
top of the screen lets you 
zoom out, plan routes and 
get detailed map information. 
However, their relatively 
small size means you'll most 
likely need to use the stylus 
to operate them. 



The Road Angel shuns 
physical buttons in favour of 
a 3. Sin touch-screen display. 
This means you can either 
use your fingers to operate 
the device, or the included 
stylus, which slides neatly 
into the rear of the chassis. 



Basemaps for the UK are 
included, which allow for 
basic road-based navigation, 
so you'll need to invest in 
some OS maps. Satmap sells 
both 25,000:1 and 50,000:1 
maps covering various 
regions of the UK, starting 
at £29.99. 




A plastic cover is used to 
protect the display from 
scratches and scrapes. 
Replacement covers can be 
purchases from Satmap at a 
cost of £15 for a pack of three. 



This small joystick lets you 
quickly navigate around the 
maps. It also doubles up as a 
button, so you can use it to 
select menu options. Despite 
its small size, it can be easily 
operated with gloves on 



The Road Angel's chassis isn't as robust as some of the other 
devices on test, but it will be able to withstand moderate outdoor 
usage and features a case that's water resistant. The square, in-car 
design also means it's not as comfortable to hold in the hand 
compared to competing products. 




The SD card slot for the 
maps sits on the side 
of the chassis behind a 
rubber flap. A USB port is 
housed on the other side 
of the device. 



Like the Active 10 (below), 
the Adventurer 7000 
features Ordnance Survey 
(OS) maps. You get OS 
maps for the UK's national 
parks included in the pack 
- further OS maps for the 
rest of the country are 
optional extras. 



The Active 10 runs off three AA 
batteries. Although these won't 
last as long as a lithium-ion 
battery, it does mean that you 
can easily carry spares with you 
so you can replace the batteries 
should they die while you're 
out on a hike. 



The function of the six rubber 
buttons depends on which 
menu you are in. They can be a 
little fiddly to use, though, and 
require a firm push. 



Maps courtesy Ordnance Survey mapping 

© Crown copyright. A/V\58/08 ^ 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



91 



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GROUP TEST > OUTDOOR sat-nav devices 



Outdoor sat-nav devices 


^k 


^ 


MANUFACTURER 


GARMIN 


GARMIN 


Model 


Colorado 300 


Etrex Vista HCx 


Price 


£399.99 


£279.99 


Manufacturer URL 


www.garmin.co.uk 


www.garmin.co.uk 


UK sales URL 


As above 


As above 


Sales number 


023 8052 4000 


023 8052 4000 


SPECIFICATIONS 




Screen size (diagonal) 


3in 


2.25in 


Resolution 


240x400 


176x220 


Waterproof 


• (IPX7) 


• (IPX7) 


Built-in Ram 


348MB 


N/A 


Colour screen 
Memory slot 


• 


• 


SD card 


Micm SD card 


Waypoints 


• 


• 


Create mutes (maximum) 
Create goto points 


• 


• 


• 


• 


Create points of interest 


• 


• 


Proximity alerts 


• 


• 


Built-in compass 


• 


• 


Track log 
USB interface 


• 


• 


• 


• 


Power supply 


2AA 


2AA 


Estimated battery life 


15hrs 


25hrs 


Maps included 


Worldwide Basemap 


Europe/Atlantic Basemap 


Price of additional maps 


Fmm £50 


From £50 


Bundled software 


Trip Manager 


Trip Manager 


Bundled accessories 


Belt clip 


Wrist strap 


Dimensions in cm (wxdxh) 


6x3.5x13.9 


5.6x3x10.7 


Weight 


207g 


156g 


SCORES 




Features 


**** 


*** 


Performance 


**** 


**** 


Value for money 


*** 


*** 


OVERALL 


**** r 


*** 



94 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



OUTDOOR SAT-NAV DEVICES < GROUP TEST 






MAGELLAN 


MAGELLAN 


ROAD ANGEL ^^H 


IB 


SATMAP 




Explorist 210 


Explorist 600 


Adventurer 7000 




Active 10 




£175.99 


£327.99 


£279.99 (includes 6-month subscription; 
subsequently £3.99 per month) 




£299.99 




www.magellangps.com 


www.magellangps.com 


www.roadangel.co.uk 




www.satmap.com 




www.eliteukelectronics.com 


www.eliteukelectronics.com 


As above 




As above 




08704 03 02 


08704 03 02 


01327 855 586 




0845 873 0101 






^^^^_ 




2.25in 


2.25in 


3.5in 




3.5in 




122x160 


122x160 


320x240 




320x240 




• (IPX6) 


• (IPX7) 


• (IPX6) 




• (IP65) 




22MB 


16MB 


64MB 




128MB 




Greyscale 


• 


• 




• 


SD card 


SD card 


SD card 




SD card 




• 


• 


• 




• 




• 


• 


• 




• 




• 


• 


• 




• 




• 


• 


• 




• 




• 


• 


• 




• 




• 


• 


X 




• 




• 


• 


X 




• 




• 


• 


• 




• 




2AA 


Li-ion 


Li-ion 




3AA 



18hrs 



Worldwide Basemap 



17hrs 



Worldwide Basemap 



8hrs 

UK/Eire Basemap, UK national parks 
Ordnance Survey maps 



12hrs 



UK Basemap 



(UK pricing not yet set) 


(UK pricing not yet set) 


From £50 




Fmm £29.99 


Geocache Manager 


N/A 


Memory-Map, photo viewer. 


MP3 player 


N/A 


N/A 


N/A 


Car-mounting kit; mains power supply 


Carrying bag; detachable strap 


5.6x3.3x11.9 


5.6x3.3x11.9 


8.89x2.3x7.4 




7.5x3x13 


165g 


165g 


175g 




175g 




^^^ ^^^^H__^^^B 


*** 


*** 


**** 




**** 


*** 


*** 


**** 




**** 


*** 


***** 


**** 




**** 


*** 


*** 


**** 




**** ^H 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



95 



GROUP TEST > OUTDOOR sat-nav devices 



Galileo, Galileo - GPS takes over the world 



Sales of sat-nav devices are booming. Almost 30 million sat-nav 
devices were sold worldwide in 2007, and it's estimated that the sat- 
nav market in 2008 will be worth as much as $30bn (£15bn). 

Most of those GPS devices will be in-car systems, but GPS features 
are increasingly being built into mobile phones and spreading into 
other areas as well. The outdoor models reviewed here are becoming 
more and more popular, as are sports or fitness devices designed for 
running, cycling and other sports. As well as allowing you to plan your 
route and keep track of your location, these devices often include 
other features, such as the ability to record lap times, heart rate and 
even the number of calories you burn along the way. 

However, GPS isn't stopping there. Sportswear specialist O'Neill 
has developed a skiing jacket called the Navjacket (www.navjacket.com), 
which has a GPS receiver built into it, along with a flexible organic 
LED built right onto the sleeve of the jacket so that you can glance 
down at the screen on your arm without even pausing as you hurtle 
down the piste. There was even a GPS dog collar on show at the 
recent Crufts dog show in the UK. 

However, one of the biggest growth areas for GPS is people 
tracking. There are many devices being developed that are designed 
to help parents keep track of their children, or other family members 
such as elderly relatives. 

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one 
health company unveiled a set of GPS trainers. These were aimed at 
people suffering from Alzheimer's - the idea being that they can be 
located if they wander off or forget where they are. 

And the sat-nav boom is likely to continue. At the moment, all sat- 
nav devices rely on a satellite system that was set up and controlled 



by the US military. To ensure independence from the US system, the 
European Union is developing its own GPS satellite system called 
Galileo, while Russia is working on its own Glonass system. With all 
that GPS hardware floating over our heads, you can bet that more 
and more GPS products and services will be developed over the next 
few years in order to make use of it all. 




Garmin's Forerunner 

305 uses GPS to work 

out distance travelled 

and calories burnt 



Editor's Choice 



Editor's Choice Road Angel Adventurer 7000 
Recommended Satmap Active 10 



x^^->, 




Road Angel Adventurer 7000 

We were a little surprised at how 
expensive these outdoor GPS devices 
are. With prices starting at £175.99 
and going up to almost £400, they're certainly 
more expensive than their in-car counterparts - 
and most are only equipped with basic roadmaps 
that won't be much help for people who are 
hiking across the countryside. This means you'll 
need to pay for additional off-road maps as you 
embark on your adventures. 



Satmap Active 10 

The least expensive model sent in for review 
was Magellan's Explorist 210, priced at £175.99. 
But while this has all the standard features you'd 
expect from a sat-nav system, such as the ability 
to plot waypoints and plan routes, the unit's 
black and white screen is unattractive and feels 
rather basic. Its bigger brother, the Explorist 600, 
does have a more attractive colour screen, but at 
well over £300 it's a lot more expensive than the 
similarly designed Garmin Etrex Vista HCx. 



For £299.99 you can get Satmap's Active 10, 
which has a larger screen and a rugged design 
that will withstand tough outdoor conditions. 
The arrangement of the buttons on the Active 
10 is a little cumbersome, but it certainly 
provides a good range of navigation features, 
and the additional maps sold by Satmap are 
reasonably priced. All of which combines to win 
it our Recommended award. However, the 
award for the roughest, toughest outdoor GPS 
has to go to the Garmin Colorado 300. This is a 
device that will stand up to some extreme 
conditions, while it also benefits from a simple 
and intuitive control system. But at £399.99, it is 
by far the most expensive model reviewed here. 

This brings us to the odd man out: Road 
Angel's Adventurer 7000. Designed as a dual- 
purpose, in-car and outdoor sat nav, the 
Adventurer is great value for money. It includes a 
car-mounting system, mains power supply, 3.5in 
screen and rechargeable battery for £279.99. 
There is also a set of Ordnance Survey maps for 
the UK's national parks. It's not as rugged as the 
Colorado 300 or Active 10, but it's the most 
versatile option for the hiker who needs a bit of 
help while trekking around the countryside, so it 
collects the Editor's Choice award. PCW 



96 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




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-EDITING SOFTWARE < GROUP TEST 




100 ACD Systems ACDSee Photo 
• Editor 4 

101 Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 

102 Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 

103 Corel Ulead PhotoImpact 12 
N^ 104 Gimp 2.4.5 

107 Magix Xtreme Photo and 

Graphic Designer ^t 




darkroom 



Even the best photographers need image editors to tweal< their 
photos. Ken McMahon tal<es a snapshot of the marl<et 



Digital photography is everywhere you 
look. Cameras in phones and other 
handheld devices are getting more 
sophisticated, digtal SLRs are becoming more 
affordable and we're all looking for new ways to 
experiment with our photos and improve them. 
We've grown to expect certain things from 
photo-editing software as standard. One-click 
photo enhancement, easy red-eye removal and 
effective noise filters along with seamless 
retouching and cloning tools are now expected 
in even the most basic packages. Some are even 
available online for free. 

As a result, software vendors are having to 
raise their game. A case in point is Adobe 



Photoshop Elements 6, which lets you combine 
several photos to produce one that contains the 
best elements of all of them. 

Photo merging can also help you get 
well-exposed details in difficult lighting situations 
by combining several 'bracketed' shots made 
with different exposure settings to produce high 
dynamic range (HDR) images. 

Software companies are trying to attract 
photographers across the spectrum from casual 
point and shooters to digital SLR owners with 
new features like these. In this group test we 
put six photo-editing packages aimed at the 
home user to the test, ranging in price from 
free to £79. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



99 



GROUP TEST > IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE 



ACD Systems ACDSee Photo Editor 4 



Price £24.99 Contact ACD Systems www.acdsee.com 




Levels can be quickly adjusted using the histogram and 
the 'before' and 'after' shots 



ACDsee is bucking the trend for combining 
photo-editing and management tools in one 
application. Photo Editor 4 does just that, 
editing. If you want to organise your photo library 
you'll have to pay extra for ACDSee 10 Photo 
Manager. Having said that, Photo Editor is around half 
the price of some of the other applications in this 
group test and there's a special bundle price for the 
two applications on the ACDSee website which still 
comes in well below £50. So the choice is yours and it's 
good value either way. 

So to the Editor which, at first glance, has a bit of a 
retro look about it. The central image window is 
surrounded on three sides by a toolbar, image basket 
and on the right a palette dock containing how-to 
guidance, adjustment filters and an object palette. 

Expanding the how-to palette reveals ACDSee's 
hidden treasure: a stack of guided projects covering the 
gamut from basic editing (opening and rotating 
photos) to photo fixing and creative projects. 

Each one kicks off with a short introduction before 
taking you step-by-step through the task. Guided help 
is often a pretty cursory, click this, do that affair, by 
contrast ACDSee's how-tos are well written, 
informative and full of useful tips. In spite of the title, 
they don't simply tell you how to do something, but 
why, and advise you of other things you might want to 
try as well. We also appreciated the way menu items 
and tools you need are helpfully highlighted on the 
menu and toolbars, making them very easy to locate if 
you're unfamiliar with the interface. 

Once you get beyond the guidance, ACDSee Photo 
Editor has the look, feel and facilities of a fairly 
well-equipped mid-range photo-editing application. It 



has many of the image-adjustment tools and effects 
filters found in Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro 
Photo X2 including features such as object layers 
complete with blend modes and masks. 

Photo Editor's selection tools could be improved. 
There's a selection of geometric marquees and a magic 
wand tool, but there are no intelligent selection or 
masking tools to help you isolate a subject from the 
background. We also couldn't find any means of 
selecting pixels on the basis of colour, so if you want 
to replace certain colours in a photo you'll soon come 
unstuck. For example, there isn't a simple way to turn 
your red car green or adjust only the skin tones in a 
specific photo. 

Applying adjustments such as colour balance is 
made simple by the use of thumbnail variations 
providing alternative options. However, if you prefer 
it's also possible to perform this in the conventional 
way using RGB sliders. All adjustments are carried out 
in a modal dialogue box with big before and after 
previews and the option to save and apply your own 
presets. There's a comprehensive set of tonal 
adjustment tools including those to tinker with levels, 
curves and both shadows and highlights. 

What it does, ACDSee Photo Editor does very well, 
and if you are looking for a competent application that 
will take you from beginner to intermediate digital 
photo editing then this package will suit you well. 
What it may lack in killer features such as makeover 
tools and multiple image merging, it makes up for by 
providing a solid image-editing feature set and first- 
rate guidance. This, combined with the price of just 
under £25, makes it a tempting choice for newcomers 
to digital editing. 



Verdict 



Pros Solid features and adjustment 

tools; excellent guidance 

Cons Lacks 'killer features'; limited 

selection tools 

Overall Good choice for beginners 

who want to take their photo editing 

a little further 

Features ***** 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money **** 



Overall 



***** 



100 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE < GROUP TEST 



Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 £^ 

Price £69.32 Contact Adobe 020 7365 0733 www.adobe.com/uk Ne*^N|fe. Hf 



EDITOR'S CHOICE 




Photoshop Elements 6 features a new interface and more 
guidance for digital editing 



Adobe Photoshop Elements has enjoyed the 
position of top dog in the non-professional 
image-editing world for as long as most 
people have been taking digital cameras on holiday. 
But Elements isn't just for holiday snaps, as well as 
serious amateur photographers, the program has also 
found favour with many professional photographers 
for whom full-blown Photoshop CS3 is overkill. 

In this latest version Adobe has attempted to 
continue to appeal to all comers by revamping the 
interface and including more guidance for digital 
editing tasks, while at the same time harnessing 
Photoshop's raw power to provide tools and features 
that will appeal to more ambitious photographers. 

The first thing that will strike anyone familiar with 
previous versions is how different Elements 6 looks. 
Adobe has overhauled the interface and along with the 
new charcoal colour scheme it exudes a more serious, 
professional and complicated feel. 

As before, there are essentially two applications - a 
photo organiser and an editing tool. The new organiser 
now has four tabs labelled Organize, Fix, Create and 
Share. Some of the one-click fixes available from the 
Fix tab in the Organiser do just that. Auto Smart fix, 
for example, runs a script that appears to apply levels 
and colour adjustments. If these fixes aren't doing the 
job you can enter the editing application in one of 
three working modes - Quick Fix, Full Edit, or Guided 
Edit, above which sit three more tabs that allow 
switching from editing to creating or sharing. 

All these tabbed modes doubtless make everything 
appear well-organised, but we think new users could 
well be confused and maybe even a little intimidated 
by the plethora of tabbed panels. 



Quick Fix isn't new, but it does provide a one-stop 
shop for many of the image-enhancing tools you're 
likely to need. These include Smart Fix, Red-eye Fix, 
lighting and colour adjustments, and sharpening. As 
well as having sliders for each of these, there are auto 
buttons that will do the guess-work for you and, at the 
very least, offer a start point for your own tweaking. 

The new guided editing mode takes you through 
basic editing tasks such as cropping and straightening, 
correcting skin tones, retouching and using the new 
Photomerge features. Too often though, the guidance 
consists of little more than a single-sentence 
explanation of a slider's function. For example. 
Enhance Colour is a hue, saturation and lightness 
control with an auto option and explanations that hue 
'changes the colours in the photo', saturation 'changes 
the intensity of the colour or hue' and lightness 
'changes the brightness of the colours' - all of which 
becomes fairly evident when you move the sliders. 

Adobe rarely fails to endow a new release with at 
least one great new feature and Elements 6 is no 
exception. Photomerge Group Shot combines several 
group photos to produce the perfect shot - no-one 
with their eyes shut or looking at their feet. Similar 
blending technology is employed in another new 
feature, Photomerge Faces. This seamlessly blends 
features from two or more portraits. 

Adobe has also improved the already excellent 
Photomerge panorama feature, added a new Quick 
Selection tool and improved integration with the 
Premiere Elements video-editing application. All great 
new additions, but we were left wondering if, in trying 
to please everyone, Photoshop Elements' reputation for 
intuitive ease of use isn't being submerged. 



Verdict 



Pros Faster; great new selection and 

Photomerge tools 

Cons Revamped interface is too 

involved; organiser and editor need 

better integration 

Overall Provides great scope for 

digital photographers, but not as 

beginner-friendly as it once was 

Features ***** 

Ease of use *** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



101 



GROUP TEST > IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE 



Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 



W ^J 



Price £79 Contact Corel 0800 376 9271 www.corel.com 




v^s 



it.m 



RECOMMENDED 




The Smart Photo Fix tool lets you quickly enhance digital snaps 



Corel's tenure of Paint Shop Pro has seen its 
transformation from a niche photo-editing 
application to something with much wider 
appeal. The only convoluted thing about Paint Shop 
Pro Photo X2 is the title; in every other respect it's easy 
to get to grips with, providing a good introduction to 
photo editing for newcomers and enough 
sophistication to attract serious amateurs. 

Those who want to quickly get their photos 
sorted and move on are well catered for. There are 
plenty of one-step photo fixers, such as 'one-step 
photo fix', 'one-step noise removal' and 'one-step 
purple fringe fix'. 

This version introduces Express Lab which allows 
you to quickly rate and apply basic edits such as 
cropping and red-eye removal to a folder of photos. 
Express Lab includes Smart Photo fix, an extended 
version of the one-step photo fix, which allows you to 
tweak tonal and colour settings after the software has 
made its best effort. 

Beginners who are keen to experiment with 
retouching and other editing tasks will find a range 
of tools that are easy to use and produce fairly good 
results, even in inexperienced hands. The makeover 
tools include a blemish fixer, a toothbrush and a 
suntan brush. 

Aside from personal makeovers, one of the most 
commonly undertaken retouching tasks is cloning to 
remove objects, but seamless cloning requires some 
skill and experience. Paint Shop Pro's Object Remover 
is easier to use than conventional cloning brushes; 
there's no painting involved, you just select the source 
and target areas. It works well with some subjects, but 
results can be a hit and miss. 



There are enough basic and intermediate tools and 
projects here to keep those new to Paint Shop Pro 
Photo X2, or photo editing in general, busy for a long 
time. Corel has got the balance between ease of use 
and worthwhile end results about right. Guidance, in 
the form of the Learning Centre, a context aware panel 
that provides step-by-step project guidance as well as 
advice on the currently selected tool, is helpful and 
apposite without being intrusive - you can turn it off 
when you no longer feel in need of it. 

When you get to that stage there's plenty more to 
explore in the form of advanced editing controls. Paint 
Shop Pro Photo X2 has tonal and colour controls that 
can match Photoshop's in range and sophistication, but 
some of the advanced tonal editing tools, such as 
histogram adjustment and highlight/midtone/shadow 
aren't always that intuitive. 

All the adjustment tools and filters effects settings 
can be saved as presets, and a few existing ones are 
provided. But there aren't enough of them and what 
there is isn't always very useful. Preset libraries that 
correct for common exposure and colour problems 
would be a big step forward. 

Paint Shop Pro was one of the first applications to 
deal with the problem of noise and its digital camera 
noise removal filter is superb. It also has an easy-to-use 
artificial depth of field effect, backlighting and fill flash 
effects for handling difficult lighting as well as purple 
fringe and chromatic aberration removal tools. 

Add to that a new HDR (high dynamic range) 
photo-merging feature and editable layer styles for 
creating drop shadows, glows, bevels and the like, and 
you have an extremely capable photo editor that's 
suited to a wide range of abilities. 



Verdict 



Pros Suitable for both beginners and 

advanced users 

Cons Some tools difficult to fathom; 

lack of useful presets 

Overall Inexpensive and capable 

alternative to Photoshop with a 

selection of easy-to-use features 

Features ***** 

Ease of use *** * 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



102 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE < GROUP TEST 



Corel Ulead Photoimpact 12 



Price £29.99 Contact Corel 0800 376 9271 www.corel.com 




Photoimpact guides you through common tasks such as 
adjusting levels 



Ulead, probably best known for its video 
products, developed Photoimpact to version 12 
at which point it was adopted by Corel when 
the company acquired Ulead at the end of 2006. 
However, Corel wasn't really after Photoimpact, it had 
its eye on the emerging HD video authoring and 
playback markets and was primarily interested in 
Intervideo, which had owned Ulead since 2005. 

All of which is of interest only in as much as it 
raises this question; what is Corel, which already has 
a successful photo-editing application in the form 
of Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, going to do with 
Photoimpact? The answer to that question is nobody 
really knows. However, if the past 18 months is 
anything to go by, the most likely answer is not very 
much at all. 

That would be a shame because Photoimpact has 
got a lot to offer. It has a comprehensive suite of 
powerful editing tools that, since the last Ulead update 
just before the Corel acquisition, was nicely tempered 
with some ease-of-use features designed to make it 
more accessible for digital image-editing novices. 

Primarily this takes the form of the Expressfix mode, 
which pulls together a subset of the program's features 
and adds some new tools designed to automate 
common image enhancement processes such as tonal 
and colour adjustments. 

Big before and after previews, together with 
thumbnail variations of the kind used in ACDSee Photo 
Manager, simplify the process for those who aren't so 
confident when it comes to knowing their way around 
a colour wheel. 

Photoimpact and ACDSee Photo Editor have quite a 
lot in common. They provide a solid set of editing 



tools, guided tasks and tools focused on the beginner 
as well as a no-nonsense full-editing interface that 
provides access to the program's more advanced 
editing tools. 

But Photoimpact has a few other tricks up its sleeve 
that will appeal to those who want to go a little further 
with their photography. It was one of the first photo 
editors to provide high dynamic range (HDR) tools, 
allowing the combination of multiple bracketed 
exposures to produce images with very good shadow 
and highlight detail from difficult subjects such as 
window shots and sunsets. And though PhotoImpact's 
HDR feature was one of the first to arrive on the 
scene, it remains one of the most versatile. 

One of the big problems with merging photos to 
produce an HDR composite is that the camera has to 
be on a tripod. Even then, if the subject moves, most 
HDR tools simply don't know how to deal with it. But 
Photoimpact will happily merge handheld shots and 
can remove artefacts caused by subject movement 
either automatically, or manually by painting out 
moving elements with a brush. 

And its Smart Remove feature, which allows you to 
combine several shots of the same scene and choose 
which bits of each to include predates Photoshop 
Elements' Photomerge group shot by more than a year. 

Without a clear commitment from Corel, buying 
Photoimpact 12 inevitably involves a small element of 
risk for those who want to take advantage of upgrade 
offers on future versions. Now that Corel has cut the 
price of Photoimpact by half it's less of a risk than it 
might have been, but if you're concerned about lack of 
future support it might be prudent to hold off for a 
while and see what the future brings. 



Verdict 



Pros Good photo merge features and 

basic adjustment tools 

Cons Lacks advanced editing tools; 

no update since 2006 

Overall A good-value mid-range 

package, but questions remain over 

the future of Photoimpact 

Features ***** 

Ease of use *** ^* 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



103 



GROUP TEST > IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE 



Gimp 2.4.5 

Price Free Contact Gimp www.gimp.org 




Despite being free, advanced features such as a clone tool are 
available in Gimp 



Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a 
GNU open-source project that grew out of a 
software project started by a couple of 
Berkeley students who wanted to produce an 
image-editing program for Unix. Gimp runs on most 
Unix-based operating systems, Mac OS and 
Windows. You can download a Windows installer 
at http://gimp win.sourceforge.net/stable.html. 

It was originally designed to run in an X-Windows 
environment, so Gimp can seem a little anarchic 
compared with conventional Windows applications. 
Each interface element (the image window, toolbox, 
layers palette, etc) occupies its own window, together 
with a corresponding button on the taskbar. The 
interface provides some docking options - layers, 
paths, channels and history palettes can live in shared 
accommodation, as can brushes, patterns, gradients 
and fonts. This setup also has the advantage that you 
can arrange things how you want them. It also has its 
drawbacks though, and if you have other applications 
running you can't Alt&Tab back into Gimp - only one 
of its numerous windows. 

Gimp has developed into a feature-rich application 
with an array of sophisticated image adjustment and 
manipulation tools to rival the best. It has numerous 
selection tools including marquees, intelligent 
edge-finding scissors, fuzzy select (also known as 
magic wand) and a foreground select tool. The fuzzy 
select tool can select anti-aliased and feathered edges, 
transparent areas, sample merged (from multiple 
layers) and from the composite image, an individual 
channel, hue saturation or value. 

Most clone tools offer two alignment options - 
aligned and unaligned - but Gimp's has four. It 



supports a pressure-sensitive stylus input and has a 
clone brush for cloning from a source with an altered 
perspective. This would be useful for, say, cloning 
windows from one side of a building onto another. 

The layers palette has a full complement of blend 
modes, opacity and transparency lock and fully 
featured editable layer masks. You can toggle masks on 
and off, make masks from selections, and copy them 
from one layer to another. The Gimp's layers palette 
was the most fully featured and versatile of all the 
programs in this group test. About the only thing it 
doesn't provide is the ability to arrange layers into 
groups, but doubtless that will come. 

While it has an impressive array of tools, and 
editing features. Gimp fails to match the other 
applications for help and guidance. There is a 
comprehensive help browser which provides 
explanation of every aspect of the program, but if 
you're starting out in digital image editing with Gimp, 
you'll find it a bit tough to get to grips with. 

One advantage of Gimp's open-source provenance 
is that it is packed with effects filters and there's no 
shortage of plug-ins. Plug-in development is so 
central to Gimp it has its own website. Gimp Plug-in 
Registry at http://registry.gimp.org. Here you can find 
everything from noise removal and layer effects to 
plug-ins for working with Raw file formats from 
digital cameras. 

Despite the availability of Raw plug-ins. Gimp's 
inability to work with 16-bit RGB images all but rules it 
out for serious photographic work. But if you have 
some existing knowledge of digital imaging and are 
prepared to make some effort to find your way around. 
Gimp won't disappoint. 



Verdict 



Pros Free; powerful editing tools; 

well supported 

Cons Complex; little guidance; 8-bit 

RGB only 

Overall Great value, fully featured 

editing application, but requires real 

commitment 

Features ***** 

Ease of use ** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



104 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE < GROUP TEST 



Magix Photo and Graphic Designer 



Price £59.99 Contact Magix 0905 118 0888 www.magix.com/uk 




The Auto Exposure tool attempts to sort out poorly exposed 
shots, but results weren't always great 



This suite from Magix includes Xtreme Graphic 
Designer and Magix Photo Manager, but we'll 
be concentrating on the Xtreme Photo Designer 
7 element in this review. It's also available as part of 
the larger, more expensive, Magix Xtreme Photo Video 
Graphic Suite, which contains other programs including 
Xtreme Graphic Designer, Xtreme Movies on CD and 
DVD, and Xtreme Photo and Video Manager. 

The main picture window sits below a horizontal 
toolbar and a tool options bar, a vertical toolbar on the 
left accommodates an assortment of basic editing tools 
and a filmstrip window at the bottom of the screen can 
be toggled to display a thumbnail effects browser. 

The first thing your eye is drawn to is a '1 -click' 
button on the horizontal toolbar which provides 
exposure, colour and white balance corrections via a 
dropdown menu. This made a reasonable job of 
brightening slightly underexposed photos during 
testing, but performed poorly with overexposure - on 
occasions making things worse. 

The Task Assistant provides guided editing from a 
panel, which replaces the toolbar on the left of the 
screen. Projects are organised on three tabs - Optimise, 
Edit and Creative - with a handful of tasks on each. 

The optimise exposure task assistant provides an 
Auto Exposure button which generated similar results 
to the 1 -click button. Sliders are also supplied for 
adjusting shadow, mid tone and 'lights'. These 
produced quite crude results that in some cases 
worsened, rather than improved our test images. 
Dragging the 'lights' slider in either direction on bright 
photos caused the highlights to disappear and, even 
more disconcertingly, returning the slider to its original 
position didn't restore the image to its previous state. 



Correct image focus is a sharpening tool with three 
settings (light, medium and hard), but there are no 
intermediate settings and no explanation of why, when 
or how you might want to use this effect. 

The interface can be inconsistent in places. On the 
Main Task Assistant tab the exposure tool is called 
'Optimise exposure' and when clicked it becomes 
'Optimise lighting'; again, there's no mention of what 
kind of photos might need their exposure or lighting 
optimised, nor how. Likewise 'Correct image focus' 
turns into 'Correct image sharpness'. To make a 
selection you 'select all' or use one of the selection 
tools. To deselect you 'remove mask'. 

Adjustments and effects are all rolled into one on 
the Effects menu, but are at least categorised here; in 
the effects browser they are lumped together, so you 
have to scan them all to find what you want. Most of 
the effects on the colour filter sub-menu of the effects 
menu are included. The effects thumbnails use a 
sample image. When you click a thumbnail it is applied 
to the full-resolution open image - a process that takes 
several seconds - before the filter controls appear. And 
you can't try another effect without cancelling the first. 

The Clone brush provides a variety of presets and 
blend modes, and you can feather the brush edge and 
change the size and pressure, but there are no align 
modes. It's neither simple enough for beginners nor 
sufficiently sophisticated for advanced users. The Levels 
control provides no histogram - there is a separate 
histogram display, but it's modal - you can't do 
anything else (such as adjust levels) while it's visible. 

Given the availability of superior free and low-cost 
alternatives, it's hard to imagine circumstances in which 
this would be a worthwhile purchase. 



Verdict 



Pros Quick access to one-click tools; 
includes graphics package 
Cons Poor design; clunky; 
inconsistent interface; ineffective tools 
Overall Disappointing in every 
respect from the lack of adequate 
help to poorly designed and 
ineffective tools 

Features ***** 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



107 



GROUP TEST > IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE 



Image editing software 



I 



i Photo Editor 



8 




/i^ OjK ^^OBE 



#fflf te^^ 





MANUFACTURER 


ACD SYSTEMS 


^^^H^ADOBE ^^^H 


Product 


ACDSee Photo Editor 


Photoshop Elements 6 


Price 


£24.99 


£69.32 


Telephone 


N/A 


020 7365 0733 


URL 


www.acdsee.com 


www.adobe.com/uk 


SPECS 




^^^L-.-^ -^^^^1 


Auto enhance 


• 


• 


Red-eye removal 


• 


• 


Digital camera noise removal 


• 


• 


Purple-fringe removal 


X 


X 


Straighten tool 


X 


• 


Smart cloning (healing brush etc) 


X 


• 


Smart selection/extract 


X 


• 


Layers 


• 


• 


Layer masks 


• 


X 


16-bit support 


• 


• 


Raw format support 

(check manufacturer website for specific camera Raw formats) 


• 


• 


Plug-in support 


X 


• 


Colour management 


• 


• 


Web gallery 


X 


• 


Photo merge 


X 


• 


Panorama stitching 


X 


• 


Print contact sheet 


X 


• 


Print multiple images 


X 


• 


Photo organiser 


X 


• 


Interactive help 


• 


• 


SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS 


"^min 


Operating system 


Windows 2000/XP/Vista 


Windows XP/Vista, Mac CSX 


Hardware 


Pentium 4 or equivalent, 512MB Ram, 
100MB disk space 


1.3GHz processor, 256MB Ram, 
1.5GB disk space 


SCORES 




Features 


*** 


***** 


Ease of use 


***** 


*** 


Value for money 


**** 


**** 


OVERALL 


**** 


^H_ **** 



108 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE < GROUP TEST 









^ COREL V 


COREL 


GIMP MAGIX 




Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 


Ulead PhotoImpact 12 


Gimp 2.4.5 Xtreme Photo and Graphic Designer 


£79 


£29.99 


Free £59.99 




0800 376 9271 


0800 376 9271 


N/A 0905 118 0888 


www.corel.com 


www.corel.com 


www.gimp.org www.magix.com/uk 




^^^^^^^^^^1 








• 


• 


X • 




• 


• 


X • 




• 


X 


• • 




• 


• 


• X 




• 


• 


X • 




• 


• 


X X 




X 


• 


• • 




• 


• 


• • 




• 


• 


• X 




• 


• 


X X (Can open 16-bit files as 8-bit) 




• 


• 


• X 




• 


• 


• • 




• 


• 


• X 




• 


• 


• X 




• 


• 


X X 




X 


X 


X • 




• 


• 


X • 




• 


• 


X • 




• 


• 


X • 




• 


X 


• 




^^^^^^^^^^1 








Windows XP/Vista 


Windows 2000/XP (Runs on Vista, 
though not specified) 


^'"^^^^ 20 WVista, Unix, ^i^^^^3 2000/XP/Vista 




1GHz processor, 512MB Ram, 
500MB disk space 


Pentium III or equivalent, 256MB Ram, 
750MB disk space 


200MHZ processor, 128MB Ram ^0^^"^ 3^6 disT'spac?^ ^'"'' 




^^r ^^^H 








***** 


*** 


**** ** 




*** 


*** 


***** ** ** 




**** 


**** 


***** ** ** 




**** 

IF » 


*** 


*** ** 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 109 



GROUP TEST > IMAGE-EDITING SOFTWARE 



The urge to merge 

Photo editors are introducing automatic compositing tools that 
help you produce one really good photo from several not-so-good 
ones. These include high dynamic range (HDR) tools in Paint Shop 
Pro Photo X2 and PhotoImpact 12 and the Photomerge feature in 
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6. 

HDR combines images from several shots taken using different 
exposure settings. You might think it's best simply to take one 
photo with the correct exposure, but where the dynamic range of 
the subject is outside the range the sensor can record, something 
has to give. Either you expose for detail in the shadows and get 
'blown' pure white highlights, or you expose for the brighter 
details and everything else looks black. 

By shooting several bracketed photos using different exposure 
settings and combining them you can record all the detail. You 
can make an HDR image from only two photos, but for best 
results shoot from three to six. It's good to vary the shutter speed 
rather than the aperture to avoid changes in depth of field. 

For the best-quality HDR images it's recommended you use a 
tripod. Another problem with compositing images is subject 
movement. PhotoImpact provides tools that erase non-matching 
areas so if someone rides a bike through your third shot it needn't 
be a problem. But swaying trees, drifting clouds and flowing water 
are less easily dealt with and any kind of action rules out HDR. 

Adobe Photoshop provides HDR tools, but these haven't been 
included in Elements. Instead, Elements uses similar compositing 
methods for features such as Photomerge Group Shot, which 
allows you to combine the best bits from several group photos. 



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Paint Shop Pro X2 lets you create a single high dynamic range photo from 
multiple shots 



Editor's Choice 



Editor's Choice Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 
Recommended Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 




Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 

Of the six applications in this software 
group test, two are clear front-runners: 
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 and 
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2. Both programs 
started out from a similar place and are 
travelling in the same direction. 

Looking for a way to harness the power of 
Photoshop for non-professionals, Adobe came 
up with Photoshop Elements, which continues 
to provide all the best bits of Photoshop in an 
easy-to-use and understandable wrapper. 

When Corel bought Paint Shop Pro from Jasc 
it was a powerful photo editor with a loyal 



Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 

following of users desirous of Photoshop 
performance without the high price. 

Corel has since made the program easier to 
use, adding interactive guidance and a wealth of 
one-step fixes. It has done all of this while at the 
same time maintaining Paint Shop Pro Photo's 
appeal to advanced users and adding to an array 
of image manipulation and adjustment tools. 

This latest release adds HDR photo merging, 
a Layer Styles tool and visible watermarking to 
the program's high-end feature list. Paint Shop 
Pro X2 therefore gets our Recommended award. 
We'd like to see Paint Shop Pro continue in this 



vein by rationalising and improving the 
effectiveness of its advanced editing tools. It 
would also reassure existing users if Corel could 
settle on its latest photo-management 
application. Media One, which is the third 
change in as many updates. 

Though it wasn't first to market with its 
photo merge group shot feature, Adobe's 
Photoshop Elements has shown how it should 
be done with an easy-to-use tool that has really 
caught the current mood for pushing the 
boundaries of everyday photography. Most of us 
have appeared in group photos looking less than 
our best, so the ability to choose the good bits 
from a sequence of shots is something that 
everyone will appreciate. 

We think Adobe should take a step back and 
put the organisation of the Elements workspace 
at the top of its priorities for future releases. 
We'd like to see better integration of the 
Organiser and Editor, fewer tabbed panels and 
improved guidance. 

Despite these concerns, Photoshop Elements 
still provides the best all-round combination of 
ease of use, advanced editing controls and 
innovative new features, and for that reason 
gets our Editor's Choice award. PCW 



110 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




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power efficiency from light all the way to heavy loading. In a 2 gear only design, 
each gear needs to operate longer at less than optimum efficiency, causing gaps 
in power efficiency. With the ability to switch on and off gears before they start to 
loose efficiency, GIGABYTE'S Dynamic Energy Saver is able to provide up to 20% 
improved power efficiency. 

Dynamic Multi-Gear power saving vs. Others 





GIGABYTE 

Dynamic Energy Saver 


Others 


Power Design 


Dynamic Multi-Gear 


1-Gear 


Power Consumption 


X Lower Lower is better 


\ Higher 


Power Efficiency 


^ Higher Higher is better 


^ Lower 


Gaps in Power Efficiency 


X less gaps are better 


Yes 



Dynamic Multi-Gear Power Design 

Only multi-gear switching provides optimum power efficiency from light to heavy loading. 



Power Efficiency (%) 



up to 

20% 

Higher power 
efficiency during 
light loading 



Gearl Gear2 GearB Gear4 

shift to shift to shift to shift to 
Gear2 Gear3 Gear4 GearS 



High 



Gearl Gear2 Gear3 Gear4 GearS GIGABYTE Multi-Gear Switching 



Benefits of GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver 




Dynannic 
Energy Saver 



Cost Savings 




Environmental 
Protection 



GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver + Intel® 45nm 
CPU = Unmatched Energy Efficiency 

Unmatched 
~ Energy 
Efficiency 

Quality Components Make Quality Motherboards 





Ultra 
Durable 



Ultra,J 



U ltra P ower 
Efficient 




Lower RDS(on) 

MOSFET 

O Ferrite Core 

chokes 

Q Lower ESR 

Solid Capacitors 




GIGABYTE" powered by jntef jcil 



Reliable CPU Power Engine 




User-friendly Dynamic Energy Saver interface 

GIGABYTE'S user-friendly Dynannic Energy Saver interface allows you to turn on 
and off the power saving features with a simple click of the Dynamic Energy 

Saver button. Not only can 
users see real-time CPU power 
consumption in Watts, but 
once Dynamic Energy Saver is 
enabled, users can also see 
how much power they are 
. CK«,«.— . ^ actually saving. 



Dvndmir LED Di^nldV Dynamic led during llght loading Dynannic LED during heavy loading 

GIGABYTE Dynamic Energy Saver I 

enabled motherboards feature an 

LED display located directly on 

the motherboard, allowing users to see the dynamic gear shifting in real-time. As 

each gear is activated, a color-coded LED representing the gear lights up. 





GIGABYTE'S Full Range of Power Saving Solutions 



inlei) ('intei) z'inteD 




X48 X38 P35 

EXPRESS CHIPSET I EXPRESS CHIPSET EXPRESS CHIPSET I 



For more information about the GIGABYTE Dynamic 
Energy Saver motherboards please visit the GIGABYTE 
website at: http://www.gbt-tech.co.uk 




S-series 



The above photos are for reference only Motherboard specifications may vary by model. 



Pleasetvisit : 

http://forum.giga-byte.co.uk 

http://partner.giga-byte.co.uk 



GIGABYTE 



TOPFIELD 



HDMI output with upscaling capability 

500GB hard disc drive (up to 250 hours recording) 

Dual recording and playback simultaneously 

HDMI output (720p/1080i) 

USB 2.0 supported 

MP3 decoding 



2 tuners 




> Tel: 01795 429 666 



Fax: 01795 427 666 



\> Email info@turbosat.com 



For more information on the TF5810PVRt and our full 
range of products visit www.turbosat.com 



TURBOSATf digtolg ERARD* 



BAMLIS' 

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MICRO ATX MOTHERBOARDS < GROUP TEST 



Miniature motherboards 



The future looks bright for 
motherboards with integrated 
graphics. Emil Larsen explains 



This month we've looked at six micro-ATX 
motherboards with integrated graphics. 
This form factor has an exciting future 
since Intel says its next integrated graphics 
chipset (G45) will be 1 .7 times faster than the 
G35. Meanwhile, rival AMD is going to start 
squeezing graphics into the CPU on its Fusion 
design next year. 

The biggest development this year, however, 
may turn out to be Hybrid Crossfire from AMD 
and Hybrid SLI from Nvidia - both of which 
promise big gains for low-budget PC gaming. 
Historically, if you inserted a new graphics 
card into an existing PC, the integrated graphics 
will get turned off and simply go to waste. 
Hybrid systems combine the power of the new 
card and the existing integrated graphics, so you 
won't lose out on your initial motherboard 
investment if you add a new Hybrid-compatible 
graphics card at a later date. 

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 

Hybrid technologies are exclusive to AMD 
processors at the moment, and Gigabyte's 
GA-MA78GM-S2H (pictured below) is the first 
with Hybrid Crossfire support. 

At the motherboard's heart lies the 780G 
northbridge (this includes Radeon HD 3200 
graphics and Hyper Transport 3 for the latest 
Phenom processors) and an SB700 southbridge 
that supports up to six Sata (serial ATA) ports, 
14 USB ports. Raid and eSata. The southbridge's 
only flaw is relatively poor USB data-transfer 
performance, which was the worst of all the 
motherboards in our test. — -. 





780G motherboards have a feature called 
Sideport memory that can add up to 128MB of 
dedicated memory for the Radeon HD 3200 
graphics. This increases 3D performance 
by up to 15 per cent, but even AMD 
admits that the cost means few, 
if any, motherboard 
manufacturers will support it. 

The Radeon HD 3200 is actually 
a rebranded Radeon HD 2400 Pro and 
is far more capable than any Intel-integrated 
graphics chip. This includes being faster for 
gaming and offering superior high-definition 
video decoding than most other chipsets. We 
played back a Blu-ray disc with 1080p content 
and registered just 30 per cent CPU usage 
throughout. It also copes well with Vista's 3D 
interface, unlike some of Intel's integrated 
graphics parts. 

Hybrid Crossfire worked a treat (see page 
115 for scores and analysis of the performance 
gains) and Gigabyte fits an outstanding array 
of ports to the motherboard, including three 
video outputs. 

It has higher energy 
consumption than Intel 
platforms, but that 
is down to the Intel's 
efficient CPUs. Other than 
that, the GA-MA78GM-S2H 
is reasonably priced and has good 
layout, which makes it one of the best 
motherboards for home-theatre PCs that 
we have ever tested. 




Palit N78S 



Palit's foray into motherboards is a new one, but 
it does have considerable experience at making 
custom graphics cards. 

The N78S (pictured above) was sent to us as 
a preview-only board with no price tag. Its 
drivers and basic graphics performance are the 
finished article, but some of the board features 
could change before it goes on sale. 

The N78S is based on the MCP 78 
northbridge, of which there are three variants: 
U, S and D. The latter has no integrated 
graphics, while U and S have integrated 
graphics - the U version has slightly higher 
clock speeds than the S alternative. 

Palit's board is the S variant, with graphics 
called Geforce 8200. Like the Radeon HD 3200 
graphics, these are DirectX 10 compatible. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



113 



GROUP TEST > MICRO atx motherboards 




The Asus P5E-VM has 
an impressive tower of 
USB ports 




Sapphire's 780G has a 

handy debug LED in the 

top right-hand corner 



MSI'sG31M3-Fhasthe 
PCI Express slot too close 
to the Ram slots 




Nvidia's MCP 78 has been delayed for some 
time, and it's probably no coincidence we had 
stability problems running PCmark05's CPU test 
and SDmark. It also occasionally failed to 
discover our hard disk when booting. Nvidia says 
it is working on Hybrid SLI for the MCP 78, but 
it doesn't work at the moment. Graphics 
performance was very reasonable for an 
integrated chip, scoring 18fps (frames per 
second) in Fear, which is just 3fps behind a £35 
Geforce 8400 GS card. 

Should Hybrid SLI be enabled for this chipset 
in the future, the performance of the Geforce 
8200 and 8400 GS in parallel could be an 
exciting prospect. 

USB performance, which is important if you 
use external hard drives and USB keys, was first 
rate, outclassing AMD's best. Support for 
1,066MHz DDR2 memory is also included. 

If the N78S goes on sale for around £60 it 
still has a long way to go before being a 
tempting contender to Gigabyte's 780G. There 
are fewer ports. Hybrid SLI is nowhere to be 
found and Nvidia's Vista drivers continue to 
cause headaches. The N78S could be the 780G's 
perfectly matched contender, but only if Vista 
stability improves. Hybrid SLI appears and the 
price is right. 

Abit I-N73H0 

Abit's motherboard, like other Nvidia-based 
boards, has the northbridge and southbridge in 



one package. This didn't have an effect on 
performance and should bring the cost down. 

Its integrated graphics are fine for Vista's 
Aero interface but poor for gaming and, like 
MSI's G31M3-F, it won't accelerate high- 
definition decoding. There's also no HDMI-DVI 
dongle and just single-link DVI output, meaning 
resolutions above 1,920x1,080 aren't supported. 

If you have a see-through side panel on your 
case then you'll appreciate its orange printed 
circuit board, green memory Dimms and blue 
heatsinks. It's much better than MSI's G31 
motherboard for small home-theatre PCs thanks 
to its surround-sound output and HDMI port. 

Asus P5E-VM HDMI 

Like many P/G35 motherboards, the Asus 
P5E-VM has an impressive selection of frequency 
and voltage options. If you plan on changing the 
speed of the processor. Ram or PCI Express bus, 
then this is one of the best micro-ATX boards to 
do it. There is also fine control over fan speeds, 
to emphasise quietness or performance. 

Like all Intel chipsets, though, the G35 gives 
poor control over Ram frequencies and timings. 
Graphics aren't as good as AMD's 780G, and 
the heatsinks can get hot, but there are benefits, 
such as its six USB ports and Firewire port. 

The G35 chipset also speeds ahead of the 
competition due to a better memory controller. 
Overall, it's one of the best featured Intel 
motherboards around. 



MSI G31M3-F 

This is MSI's third attempt at a G31 -based 
motherboard, but it starts with one huge flaw: 
the PCI Express slot sits too close to the memory 
slots so if you insert a discrete graphics card, it 
will rub against the Ram catches. It's a cheap 
business motherboard, since it has serial and 
parallel ports and a TPM (Trust Platform 
Module) chip that supports advanced business 
security options. 

The downside of such a business-oriented 
motherboard is it only supports stereo audio, 
has poor onboard graphics and doesn't offer 
many tweaking options in the Bios. 

Sapphire 780 GPI-AM2RS780G 

Sapphire's 780G motherboard has the same core 
components as Gigabyte's version, but lacks 
HDMI, eSata, Firewire, a PCI Express x1 port 
and support for 1,066MHz Ram. It's also more 
expensive, which doesn't bode well. 

However, its major saving grace is its 
excellent diagnostic display. Two LED counters 
cycle through a series of characters when the PC 
is turned on - if the system crashes, the two 
digits freeze to indicate which component 
is causing the problem, which can be very useful 
information. The motherboard's ports are also 
relatively well spaced out, with all six Sata ports 
in an easy-to-access arrangement. 

But it's not enough to stop Sapphire's 780G 
looking average alongside Gigabyte's version. 



114 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MICRO ATX MOTHERBOARDS < GROUP TEST 



Lab results 



Power consumption and graphical capabilities will obviously be a factor if you 
are building a home-theatre PC that will switched on a lot of the time 



To test the motherboards we chose an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 
(2.4GHz) for Intel-based motherboards and a Phenom X4 9600 Black 
Box edition (2.3GHz) for AMD models. Both are quad cores and both cost 
£150 at the time of writing. 



We used AMD's and Intel's retail CPU coolers. The rest of the test 
system consisted of 2GB Corsair Xms2 800MHz Cas5 DDR2 Ram, a 
Western Digital Raptor 150GB Sata hard disk, a Seasonic 600 watt (82 per 
cent efficient) PSD and Windows Vista 32bit. 



PCmarkOS (overall) 



Bigger is better 3Dmark06 (1,024x768 in 32-bit colour) 



ASUS P5E-VM HDMI RECOMMENDI 

Abit I-N73HD 

MSIG31IV13-F 

Palit N78S 

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G 

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H EDITOR'S CHOICE 




I 



6,207 


Gigabyte GA-MA78GIV1-S2H 


EDITOR'S CHOICE 


5,025 


Sapphire PI-AIV12RS780G 
Palit N78S 


1 


4,705 




4,565 


ASUS P5E-VM HDMI 


RECOMMENDED 


4,439 
4,428 


Abit I-N73HD 
MSI G31M3-F 


_^ 



I 

1,000 2,000 3,000 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000 



500 



1,000 



1,500 



Bigger is better 

1 1/995 

1,992 

1,520 

804 

363 

342 

I 
2,000 



Asus' board is more expensive so should really be considered in a different 
league from the other boards. Its G35 chipset makes mincemeat of the 
competition thanks mainly to its superior memory controller. 



The integrated Radeon HD 3200 rules the integrated roost. When we tested 
the boards with a Radeon HD 3450 256MB, the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 
scored 1,125 points more than any other model. Hybrid Crossfire improved 
performance by 51 per cent compared with boards without the technology. 



Fear (1,024x768, high settings) 

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H EDITOR'S CHOICE 

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G 

Asus P5E-VM HDMI RECOMMENDEJ 
Abit I-N73HD 
Palit N78S 
MSI G31M3-F 



I 



Bigger is better Idle power consumptiofi (idle, in watts) 




10 



I 

25 



We inserted a Geforce 8400 GS 256MB, which costs the same as the Radeon 
HD 3450, into the Palit N78S board to see if Hybrid SLI could be enabled. It 
couldn't, and performance is noticeably worse than AMD's products. Hybrid 
Crossfire wouldn't work on Sapphire's board, which Sapphire is investigating. 



Abit I-N73HD 
Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H EDITOR'S CHOICE 

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G 

Palit N78S 

MSI G31M3-F 



Asus P5E-VM HDMI RECOMMENDED 




Smaller is better 



58 
61 
69 
71 
71 
71 



I 



AMD's 780G idle power consumption is vastly improved compared with the 
790FX chipset. Although we enabled AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet technology on 
Sapphire's board, it still drew considerably more than Gigabyte's 780G, which 
suggests AMD's technology wasn't working properly. 



Cinebench 2003 (multi-CPU) 

Asus P5E-VM HDMI RECOMMENDEl 

MSIG31M3-F 

Abit I-N73HD 

Palit N78S 

Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G 

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H EDITOR'S CHOICE 




Bigger is better 1 


JSB average read (in Mbytes/sec) 










Bigger is better 


1,352 


Palit N78S ^^^^^g 








■ 


1 34.2 


1,346 


Abitl-N73HD " 








^ 


1 34.2 


1,336 


Asus P5E-VM HDMI RECOMMENDED J 








■ 


1 


1,095 


MSI G31M3-F ^^^^1 








■ 


1 


1,070 


Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H EDITOR'S CHOICE I 








I 


29.4 


1,054 


Sapphire PI-AM2RS780G ^ 








1 
30 


27.8 


,500 


1 1 1 
5 10 


1 
15 


1 
20 


25 


1 
35 



There are small variances between motherboards, but the big difference is that 
Intel's quad-core CPU is far superior to AMD's in Cinebench. With the launch 
of new quad- and triple-core Phenom processors (see page 58 for our Phenom 
9850 review), AMD's prices could drop to make them more competitive. 



For this test we attached an external, high-speed 10,000rpm Western Digital 
Raptor to a USB port and ran HD Tach 3. AMD's southbridge, which negotiates 
USB peripherals, doesn't compare well to Nvidia's alternative, which scored 
highest in our read, write and burst speed tests. ^ 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



115 



GROUP TEST > MICRO atx motherboards 



Micro ATX motherboards 




MANUFACTURER 


ABIT 


ASUS 


GIGABYTE 


MSI PALIT 


SAPPHIRE 


Model 


I-N73HD 


R5E-VM HDMI 


GA-MA78GM-S2H 


G31M3-F N78S 


780G RI-AM2RS780G 


Rrice 


£46 


£81 


£60 


£41 Rreview 


£62 


URL 


www.abit.com.tw 


http://uk.asus.com 


www.giga-byte.co.uk 


www.msicomputer. 
co.uk 


www.palit.biz 


www.sapphiretech. 
com/uk 


HARDWARE 














Socket type 


Intel socket 775 


Intel socket 775 


AMD socket AM2+ 


Intel socket 775 AMD socket AM2+ 


AMD socket AM2+ 


Chipset 


MCR 73/Nforce 630i 


G35/ICH9R 


780G/SB700 


G31/ICH7 MCR 78S 


780G/SB700 


Ram type 


1,066MHz DDR2 


1,066MHz DDR2 


1,066MHz DDR2 


800MHz DDR2 1,066MHz DDR2 


800MHz DDR2 


Memory slots 


2 


4 


4 


2 4 


4 


No of Sata/IDE/floppy connectors 


4/1/1 


6/1/1 


5/1/1 


4/1/1 6/1/2 


6/1/1 


Noof RCI Express x1 6 2.0/ 
x16/x1/RCI ports 


0/1/1/2 


0/1/2/1 


1/0/1/2 


0/1/1/2 1/0/1/2 


1/0/0/2 


No of serial/parallel/RS/2 ports 


0/0/2 


0/0/2 


0/0/2 


1/1/2 1/0/2 


0/0/2 


No of USB/Firewire/Ethemet ports 


4/1/1 


6/1/1 


4/1/1 


4/0/1 4/0/1 


4/0/1 


MULTIMEDIA 












Graphics processor 


Geforce 7100 


GMA X3500 


Radeon HD 3200 


GMA 3100 Geforce 8200 


Radeon HD 3200 


Video outputs 


VGA, HDMI 


VGA, HDMI 


VGA, DVI, HDMI 


VGA VGA, DVI 


VGA, DVI 


Soundchip 


Realtek ALC883 


Realtek ALC883 


Realtek ALC889A 


Realtek ALC888 


Realtek ALC883 


Realtek ALC889A 


Sound outputs 


7.1 analogue, digital 
optical 


7.1 analogue, digital 
coax 


7.1 analogue, digital 
optical 


2.0 analogue 


7.1 analogue 


7.1 analogue 


OTHER INFORMATION 














Cables & other hardware 


Sata data, HDD 

power. Rata data, 

floppy disk 


3 Sata data, 3 HDD 

power, floppy disk. 

Rata data, plus HDMI 

to DVI dongle 


Sata data. Rata data, 

floppy disk, plus 

eSata 


Sata data, HDD 

power. Rata data, 

&TPM 1.2 chip 


Sata data, Rata data 


Sata data. Rata data, 
floppy disk 


Dimensions (w(ports edge)xdxh) 


244x244x41 mm 


244x244x38mm 


244x244x36mmm 


244x218x39mm 


243x219x37mm 


244x219x39mm 


Full-version software included None 


Corel Snapfire Rlus SE 


None 


None 


None 


None 


Standard warranty 
(RTB = retum to base) 


2yrs RTB 


3yrs RTB 


3yrs RTB 


2yrs RTB 


Not specified . p.^. 
(preview board) ^^^^ ™ 


SCORES 


^^^ 








Features *** 


**** 


***** 


** 


N/A *** 


Performance ** 


**** 


***** 


*** 


N/A ***** 


Value for money *** ri^ 


*** 


**** 


**** N/A *** 


OVERALL *** r* 


^^irir 


***** 


*** N/A *** 




Editor's Choice 


1 Editor's Choice Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 
1 Recommended Asus P5E-VM HDMI 




Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 

There have been a lot of superlatives used 
to describe AMD's new 780G chipset, but 
that doesn't mean those motherboards 
using it are gaming heaven. Modern titles will be 
at low settings and games almost three years 
old, such as Fear, will still struggle to play at 
1,024x768 resolutions with high settings. 

That said, the 780G does show a noticeable 
increase in performance over previous integrated 



Asus P5E-VM HDMI 

graphics chipsets' 3D prowess, and is truly 
effective at playing back high-definition movies. 

The heat generated by such a heavily 
featured northbridge with integrated graphics is 
also noticeable. Every motherboard tested here 
was hot to touch and won't overdock well until 
the integrated graphics is disabled. 

Neither Intel nor AMD expect integrated 
graphics to become high-end gaming choices 



any time soon. Cost is the biggest issue, but heat 
and design challenges are other factors. Intel says 
its forthcoming graphics card (Larrabee) will be a 
PCI Express model, while AMD's Fusion chips, 
which will combine CPU and graphics 
processors in one package, will be aimed at 
cheaper systems. Despite this, the 780G is still a 
triumph simply because it makes the best of a 
bad situation. AMD's Phenoms are slower, hotter 
and more expensive than Intel's quad-core chips, 
but look at the CPU and motherboard combined 
and AMD has a good-value package. 

Even if you don't need high-end graphics. 
Gigabyte's GA-MA78GM-S2H is our Editor's 
Choice due to its many ports and Bios options 
(pressing Control & F1 opens up even more 
options on Gigabyte motherboards. 

If you want an Intel platform, Asus' P5E-VM 
HDMI is our Recommended choice. You pay 
more than you do for the Gigabyte board, 
but it has a great range of features and the 
G35 chipset is ideal for even the fastest Intel 
quad cores. PCW 



116 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 




(^ 



Tools Software 

Essential tools for your PC 




\ai^ 



WORLD'S LEADING ICT 

PROCUREMENT PLATFORM 




:^o^PutexTaipe\.cO^ 



Organizers: 

4^%^ Taiwan External Trade 
^^ Development Council (TAITRA) 

http://www.taiwantrade.com.tw 
E-mail: computex@taitra.org.tw 



Taipei Computer 
Association (TCA) 

littp://www.computex.biz 
E-mail: info@computex.com.tw 



Sponsor: 

Taipei World 
Trade Center 



Venues: 

C Nangang Exhibition Hall ^2 

Taipei World Trade Center 
Exhibition Hall 1 & 3 

Taipei International 
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Reviews and insight for professionals 



COMPILED BY ALAN STEVENS 



(C> 



EXCHANGE AND SMART 



^,F^- - An email server is a must-have for many small businesses and 

^^^R^ Microsoft Exchange is a popular choice. However, it's not the only 

^^BBI^ option and several alternatives offer much the same functionality, 

and are both cheaper and a lot easier to manage. We put three of these products, 
designed specifically for use in growing businesses, through their paces. 

We also have an eclectic mix of standalone reviews, including Sage's revamped 
Instant Accounts package and a small yet fast addition to the HP Laserjet family. 

We also examine the impact an eSata interface can have on the performance 
offered by a Hypertec Firestorm external disk drive. Plus, we check out Powerwise, 
a neat energy-saving management tool, and see how the latest Nuance PDF 
Converter package compares against rival Adobe Acrobat. 



CONTENTS 






GROUP TEST 

120 Three mail servers aimed squarely at 
small businesses are put to the test 

REVIEWS 

122 Sage Instant Accounts 

125 HP Laserjet P1505n 

126 Hypertec Firestorm 

127 Modus Interactive Powerwise 

129 Nuance PDF Converter Professional 5 












*^-- 



attMCKHi***^ H*aj.iitiawJ 



:<^»i:im*iMtfllwH^Mi w»* liiiB.*j.airaiii 







■*w*>t^ih mi^iti 



t^ WrK-- 





OUR SCORING 



Excellent ***** Very good **** Good *** Below average ***** Poor ***** 



OUR AWARDS 



m^ ^ A 



Editor's Choice: The best product in a comparative 

group test. Anything that wins this award is of better 

quality than its competitors. 

Recommended: A product that combines great 

features, usability and value for money. 

Great Value: Not the best in class, but a product that 

has superior features and performance for the price. 



Editor's Choice 
Business 



Recommended 
Business 



The business awards are used for products that are 
more suited to home offices or small businesses. 




June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 119 



BUSINESS 



Smart exchange 

There are alternatives to Microsoft's Exchange mail server, 
Alan Stevens tests three options aimed at small businesses 




Microsoft Exchange is one of 
the most popular mail 
servers around, but it's 
neither cheap nor easy to 
manage, especially for 
small companies lacking IT expertise. But 
there are alternatives. In this group test we 
look at three mail server products designed 
with the small business in mind. 

All three offer core messaging facilities 
with support for a range of standard clients 
including Microsoft Outlook and 
browser-based web mail. Anti-virus and 
spam filtering are available, along with 
support for public folders, calendar sharing 
and other Exchange-like features. 

Compared to Exchange they're a lot more 
affordable and they don't necessarily need 
specific hardware; indeed on a small network 
you might be able to get away with a desktop 
PC. They're quick to install and require little 
day-to-day management, using either web or 
Windows-based management consoles. 

FTGateS Professional Edition 

FTGate5 is a UK-developed SMTP mail server 
with support for both Pop 3 and Imap4 
message retrieval using Outlook and other 
compatible clients. Groupware functionality 
comes built in and is available both via the 
Solsight web client bundled with the package 
and to Outlook users when the optional 
Outlook connector is configured. Anti-spam 
and anti- virus scanning are standard features. 

We downloaded the software (38MB) 
from the FTGate website and installed it 
on a Windows XP PC, although a server 
implementation is recommended to support 
more than a few users. Multiple domains can 



be handled by the software, with a wizard to 
take you through creation of the first one. 
You're also prompted to create the first user 
at this point. Bulk import facilities are also 
available, from a file or via Active Directory. 

Initial setup takes a few minutes, after 
which the background services supporting 
the mail server are started automatically. 
Everything else is then done via the browser, 
with a clear interface making it simple to 
perform tasks. Users can also manage some 
of their own settings via a browser interface. 

An anti-virus scanner is not included but 
can be added using third-party products, such 
as the Sophos Anti-Virus already installed on 
our test system. You also get a number of 
anti-spam tools, including the ability to block 
attachments and scan messages. The server 
can also filter messages using FTGate's own 
Ubeblock self-learning technology. We didn't 
find this easy to configure, but the 
documentation was a help and there's also an 
active online support forum. 

In terms of collaboration features the 
FTGate 5 server is able to share folders, 
address books, calendars, and task lists. These 
facilities require the Outlook Connector to be 
installed which, according to FTGate, works 
best with Outlook 2007, although earlier 
versions should also be OK. The groupware 
options are also available via the Solsight 
web client. It's not quite a match for Outlook 



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Above: Kerio Mail Server 
can be configured to use 
third-party anti-virus software 
and/or an optional built-in 
McAfee scanner 

Left: Not too sure about the 
trees in the background, but 
the web-based interface does 
make FTGateS easy to manage 



Web Access, but is easy to use. There are no 
archiving or mobile synchronisation facilities, 
but basic logging and activity monitoring 
tools are a standard feature and, for the 
most part, only minimal management should 
be needed to keep this product running at 
its best. 

Kerio Mail Server 6.5 

Unlike the others in this group test, the Kerio 
Mail Server is available for Apple Mac and 
Linux platforms as well as Windows. All 
support a comprehensive set of collaboration 
options with built-in backup and archiving 
tools plus support for push email and 
wireless synchronisation to PDAs. 

On a network a server is recommended, 
although for our tests we installed the 
software on a Windows XP PC. A quick-start 
wizard helps configure the primary domain 
with the mail server run as a background 
service, while administration is via a custom 
Windows console that can be run remotely. 

We found the interface straightforward 
and it was easy to perform common tasks. 
By default users are authenticated against 
an integrated database with Active Directory 
integration an option and Open Directory 
support on Apple networks. 

We liked the built-in backup service, 
which can be set to take scheduled backups. 
Remote and local archiving is another useful 
option for companies looking for regulatory 
compliance. 

The security options are impressive and 
a version of the software is available with a 
built-in McAfee anti-virus scanner (£299 ex 
Vat for 10 users). Even without, there's 
support for a range of third-party products 
and lots of anti-spam options. 

Two web-based interfaces are available - a 
full client for desktop use and a cut-down 
version for use on handheld devices. The full 
client has a familiar. Outlook-like, feel and 
offers support for shared folders and other 
features via the Kerio Outlook Connector. 

With this installed we were able to access 
public address books, shared calendars and 
other folders held on the server. Users can 
also schedule meetings, just as with 
Exchange, as well as customise spam 
protection via the connector. 

Similar groupware options are available to 
Apple Mac users running Entourage and a 



120 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



n 



BUSINESS 



built-in list server is yet another option in 
Kerio Mail Server, along with comprehensive 
logging and reporting facilities. 

The supporting documentation is good, 
there's an online knowledge base, plus email 
and phone support. 

MDaemon Pro 9.6 

An Exchange alternative, MDaemon Pro is a 
robust multi-domain SMTP mail server that 
can be used with any Pop3 or Imap4 client. 
A browser-based client (Worldclient) is 
included, along with content filtering and 
basic anti-spam tools, while anti-virus 
protection and other security features are 
available via an optional plug-in. Exchange- 
like collaboration is, similarly, available to 
Outlook users via a plug-in. 

We installed MDaemon Pro on a Windows 
XP desktop, although on a large network it's 
best with a server. Installation is quick, with 
a wizard that prompts for the domain and 
administrator account details, after which the 
server can be started manually or run as a 
background service. A Windows console is 
provided for remote administration, along 
with browser-based management. 

The management console can take a while 
to get to grips with. However, switch to 'Easy 
mode' and all but the most important options 
are hidden. User accounts are easy to manage 
with bulk import and Active Directory 
integration if required. The security features 
are similarly straightforward to configure, 
with anti-relay controls turned on by default 
along with a number of built-in anti-spam 



Add the optional Outlook Connector 
plug-in and the MDaemon server 
can match Exchange for groupware 
collaboration features 

tools, including heuristic and 
Bayesian self -learning engines. 

Anti-virus scanning is only 
available if you buy the 
Securityplus plug-in but, starting 
at £64.10 ex Vat per year for six 
users, it's not expensive. To take 
full advantage of the MDaemon 
groupware options you'll need 
the Outlook Connector plug-in, starting at 
£61.54 ex Vat for six users. The connector 
adds support for Exchange-like options such 
as calendar sharing, plus out-of-office 
responders and offline working. Worldclient 
users get similar facilities with an enhanced 
Outlook-like interface and a cut- down 
interface for mobile users both available. 

SyncML synchronisation with mobile 
devices is another built-in option, and you 
also get a list server plus extensive logging 
and reporting tool. Online and telephone 
support is available to licensed users and 
there's a knowledge base with lots of useful 
how-to articles. Very little day-to-day 
supervision is required and, as far as users 
are concerned, it's very similar to Exchange. 

Editor's Choice 

At first glance there's very little to choose 
between the three SMTP mail servers here. 
All offer support for both Pop 3 retrieval and 




Imap4 - where messages are held on the 
server itself - so can all be used with 
Outlook, Outlook Express and other common 
email clients, with a browser-based client, 
similarly, available in each case. All also offer 
anti-virus, anti-spam and other email 
security options, with groupware 
collaboration another common feature. They 
also all have similar hardware requirements, 
cost about the same and, compared to 
Exchange, are easy to install and manage. 

That said, we did find a number of 
differences, with the Kerio Mail Server, for 
example, the easiest of the bunch to work 
with and a good choice if that's your main 
concern. However, for its comprehensive 
collaboration options and extensive security 
features our Editor's Choice award has to go 
to MDaemon Pro. It's not the easiest to 
manage, and you need to buy extra plug-ins 
to get all the features but it's all worth it if it's 
a true Exchange alternative you're after. PCW 



Mail servers M 


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Ki^^^^^^H 


■ 


^^^W^H 


^^^^^^MaM 


SUPPLIER ^^^^^^H 


I^HP FTGATE TECHNOLOGY ^^ 




KERIO TECHNOLOGY ^^| 


I^^B ZEN SOFTWARE ^^^^--y| 


Product 


FTGateS Pmfessional Edition 




Kerio Mail Server 6.5 




Web 


www.ftgate.com 




www.kerio.co.uk 


www.zensoftware.co.uk 


Contact 


01366 500 560 




01223 370 136 


0161 660 5738 


Price 


£276.13 (£235 ex Vat) 




£293.75 (£250 ex Vat) 


£228.97 (£194.87 ex Vat) 


No of users for price quoted 


10 




10 


6 


Server platforms 


Windows 




Windows, Mac, Linux 


Windows 


lmap4/Pop3/Outlook Connector 


.A A 




, A A 


•/ /Optional 


Web email 


• 


• 


Shared folders/address books 


•/• 




•/• 


/Optional 


Shared calendars/task lists 


•/• 




•/• 


Optional/Optional 


Anti-spam/Anti-virus 


/Third-party scanner required 




•/• 


•/Optional 


List server/Archiving/Mobile sync 


/Limited/ 




•/•/• 


'VOptionalA^ 


Pros 


Groupware functionality included as 
standard; anti-virus and anti-spam options 


Multi-platform support; comprehensive 
groupware options; integrated anti-virus 
and anti-spam; mobile synchmnisation 


Comprehensive collaboration features; lots 
of security options; integrated list server 


Cons 


Third-party anti-virus scanner required 


Windows management console only 


Management console complex in places; 
security and Outlook Connector plug-ins extra 


SCORES 










Features 


***** 




***** 


***** 


Ease of use 


***** 




**** r 


*** r* 


Value for money 


*** ' 




*** 


**** 


OVERALL 


*** 




*** 


**** 


Summary 


Not as comprehensive as some, 

nonetheless FTGateS ticks most of the 

boxes and is an easy-to-use and affordable 

mail server 


Don't let the low price fool you - Kerio 

Mail Server offers almost everything you 

can get with Exchange 


Affordable and easy to manage, MDaemon 

Pro offers the functionality of Exchange and 

then some 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



121 



BUSINESS > REVIEWS 



ACCOUNTS SOFTWARE 



Sage Instant Accounts 

Easy-to-use small-business bookkeeping package 




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A new practice mode 
lets you experiment 
without affecting your 
live company data 



There are no radical enhancements in the latest 
version of Sage Instant Accounts, just 
considered improvements focused around 
making the package easier to learn and use. Those 
include a new welcome page giving access to sources 
of help and support, and a practice mode that lets you 
experiment without affecting your own live data. Some 
of the interfaces have also been tidied and tools moved 
around. All of which is good, although we did still find 
it a little difficult in places. 

The Sage Line software, on which Instant Accounts 
is based, is popular with accountants and other 
professionals, but can be baffling for those unfamiliar 
with things such as control codes and ledger postings. 
Fortunately, jargon is kept to a minimum in the 
Instant version although, behind the scenes, you 
still get a full set of sales, purchase and nominal 
ledgers. Together these let you generate invoices for 
products and services, raise purchase orders, keep 
track of your cashflow, reconcile your bank account 
and so on - all the things small companies need to 
run smoothly. 

Vat accounting is also provided for, with everything 
to do with Vat now collected into one area. As you 
might expect, small-business schemes are well catered 
for here plus there's now full support for online 
reporting to HMRC. 

Stock control isn't included, but there is a Plus 
version with this as an option (£169.36 ex Vat). 
Similarly, it's possible to pay employees by adding 
Instant Payroll (£95 ex Vat) and to accept payments by 
credit/debit card by subscribing to Sage card payment 
services, support for which is now built into the Instant 
Accounts application. 



Installation is straightforward, with an improved 
wizard to guide you through the process of entering 
information. You can also import existing customer and 
product details, although only in CSV format. 

Alternatively, you can choose to work on your own 
practice data, either starting afresh or returning to the 
point at which you left off. There's no substitute for 
learning from your own mistakes and it's reassuring to 
know you're not working on live data. 

There's nothing fancy about the user interface, 
which is good and, for the most part, we found it 
very easy to follow with clearly defined task options 
plus links to lots of supporting help and advice. 
Most of these links are gathered together on the 
always-available welcome page, giving access to 
instructional videos and online e-learning workshops 
together with PDF guides and suggestions for both 
getting started and performing common tasks. 

On the downside, the user-friendly 'let's help the 
novice' approach isn't followed across all the tools, and 
some jargon does creep in. We found the revamped 
report designer particularly heavy going, which could 
be an issue as it's used to customise invoices and other 
forms as well as design reports. Likewise, we would 
have preferred to see error correction integrated 
throughout the application rather than implemented 
via a separate dedicated module. 

The package comes with telephone support for the 
first 45 days as well as online support and optional 
health and safety advice for a year. Automatic updates 
and a Sage newsfeed are among other additions and, 
despite a few remaining rough edges. Instant Accounts 
now has just about everything a small company needs 
to keep on top of its finances. Alan Stevens 



Verdict 



Pros Practice mode; welcome screen 
with links to sources of help and 
support; enhanced Vat management; 
health and safety advice 
Cons Stock control and payroll extra; 
complex forms designer 
Overall A good small-business 
accounts package, the enhancements 
to the latest version of Sage Instant 
Accounts make it even easier to learn 
and use 

Features ***** 

Ease of use *** * 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £135.13 
(£115 ex Vat) 

Contact Sage 0800 447 777 

www.sage.co.uk 

System requirements 1GHz 

processor (2GHz or above 

recommended) • 512MB Ram (1GB 

recommended) • 400MB free disk 

space • Windows 2000 or later 



122 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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REVIEWS < BUSINESS 



MONO LASER PRINTER 



HP Laserjet P1505n 

This little laser is faster than it looks 




BEST BUY 




1^ 



J %w^ 



BUSINESS 
RECOMMENDS 




Don't let the 
lack of size fool 
you, the P1505n 
can print at up 
to 23ppm 



Not long ago, a network laser capable of 
churning out documents at 20-plus pages per 
minute (ppm) would be the size of a small 
fridge and cost hundreds of pounds. But times have 
changed, and the latest member of the HP Laserjet 
family, the P1505n, is little bigger than the average 
desktop Inkjet. In spite of that, it's got a built-in 
network interface, can print at up to 23ppm, and sells 
forjust£175exVat. 

OK, it's not a colour printer but then the majority 
of office documents are printed in black and white 
anyway. And it's not exactly a heavy duty solution, 
although with a duty cycle of up to 8,000 pages per 
month it's more than adequate for sharing on a small 
company network. 

Setup is about as easy as HP can make it. Take 
the printer out of its box, remove the various bits of 
orange tape and attached packing pieces, plug it in 
and turn it on. There's no LCD panel to concern 
yourself with, just a couple of buttons to clear jams, 
and a single toner cartridge is the only consumable, 
with a 1 ,000-page starter supplied ready fitted. 
Replacements should last double that (up to 2,000 
pages) and are available from HP for £44 ex Vat, or for 
less from other suppliers. 

Of course you also have to install the driver, using 
the CD supplied. But that's easy too, with a video 
also available during the install for those who have 
problems with the printed getting started leaflet. You 
can also install a print monitor utility and, somewhat 
craftily, software to shop for supplies from HP online. 



A single plastic drawer is used to feed in the paper, 
this slotting in at the front and holding up to 260 A4 
sheets, while finished documents are ejected into a well 
on the top. Between them is a so-called priority slot, 
able to take 10 sheets for when you need to print 
envelopes, labels and other non-standard media. We 
tried a variety of these and had no problems at all. 

On the downside, the lack of a duplexer is a bit of 
a disappointment, but it would add to the bulk and, at 
this price, few are likely to complain. Manual duplexing 
(take the printed pages out, turn them over and put 
them back in) is an option in the driver. 

A USB2 port allows for direct PC connection (supply 
your own cable) with a DTP Ethernet socket alongside. 
This isn't a full-blown Jetdirect interface, but it does 
the job, enabling clients to print over the Lan, with a 
built-in web server for remote management. 

On the electronics front you get a 266MHz 
processor and a fixed 32MB of memory, with PCL5e 
emulation the order of the day. Again, not the greatest 
in terms of specification, but good enough for most 
small-business users and fully able to support printing 
at up to 23ppm, with an impressive first page out time 
of less than 6.5 seconds. 

We printed a variety of documents and were more 
than happy with the results. Text was crisp and black 
with good reproduction of greyscale images. Photos 
were a little grainy, but you can't expect perfection on 
a printer in this price bracket and it is very much a 
business laser. If it's photographs you want, or colour, 
buy something else. /\/an Stevens 



Verdict 



Pros Tiny footprint; 23ppm mono 

laser; integrated network interface 

Cons No duplexer; limited paper 

handling 

Overall Compact, cute and quick, 

the Laserjet P1505n is a capable 

small-business laser and amazingly 

good value to boot 

Features *** * 

Performance ***** 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £205.63 
(£1 75 ex Vat) 

Contact HP 0870 241 3625 

www.hp.com 

Specifications Up to 23 pages per 

minute mono laser • 600x600dpi • 

8,000 pages/month duty cycle • 

266MHz processor • 32MB Ram 

(non-upgradeable) • PCL5e emulation 

• USB2 and integrated 
10/100Mbits/sec Ethernet interfaces 

• 260 sheet A4 feeder; 10-sheet 
manual feed slot • 1,000-page 
cartridge supplied with printer 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



125 



BUSINESS > REVIEWS 



EXTERNAL STORAGE 



Hypertec Firestorm 

Go faster with this eSata-enabled external disl< drive 




mm 



External disks are great, in that they let you add 
extra storage to a PC or server with minimal fuss 
and expense. Unfortunately, most use USB to 
connect to the host system, which limits the speed at 
which data can be transferred and hence the type of 
application for which they can be used. The latest 
Hypertec Firestorm drives, however, have eSata as well 
as USB interfaces, which makes them far more flexible. 

As the name implies, eSata is an extension to the 
serial ATA (Sata) interface, used for internal storage on 
most modern desktop PCs and small-business servers. 
The 'e' stands for external, an eSata interface enabling 
external disks to deliver the same level of performance 
as those inside a host system. You can even boot from 
an external disk connected via eSata, if you want. 

Hypertec Firestorm drives are available in a variety 
of capacities, starting with the 80GB model we tested, 
up to a 500GB version (£120 ex Vat). A dual-drive 
implementation is also available with a total capacity of 
either 1 .5TB (£441 ex Vat) or 2TB (£671 ex Vat), with 
optional Raid protection if needed. 

All come housed in sleek alloy cases designed to 
dissipate heat without the need for a cooling fan, an 
approach that also makes them very quiet. A small 
stand allows the drive to be positioned where needed, 
while power is supplied via a separate AC adapter that 
plugs in at the back next to the USB and eSata 
connectors. Leads for both are provided and, as few 
PCs or servers have eSata interfaces as yet, you also 
get an adapter for use with internal Sata ports. This fits 
into a standard expansion bay, although there's no card 
to plug in, just a backplate and a cable to attach to an 
internal Sata port. 

On the inside each Firestorm drive comprises little 



more than a hard disk and a small interface module. 
Our 80GB product, for example, had a single 
7,200rpm Sata disk from Excelstor, a Chinese 
manufacturer recently acquired by Iomega, with 
similar drives in the other models. 

Performance will depend on a number of factors, 
including the specification of both the disk inside the 
Firestorm and the PC or server to which it's attached. 
To give you an idea of what to expect we attached the 
drive to a modest Intel Xeon-powered server running 
Windows Server 2008, first using USB then eSata. In 
each case we formatted an NTFS volume on the 
external disk, then ran a number of file copy tests from 
an internal Sata volume. 

With the drive connected via USB we achieved an 
average transfer rate of just over 21Mbits/sec, whereas 
when using eSata the transfer rate more than doubled 
to 48Mbits/sec, illustrating just what an effect the 
choice of interface can have. To put that into 
perspective, a backup of a 160GB drive on this server 
might take just over two hours if copying to the 
Firestorm via USB, but only 56 minutes if connected 
using eSata. 

Bear in mind that similar drives with eSata interfaces 
are available from other vendors. However, the 
Hypertec product also ships with a copy of Syncback, a 
freeware backup program, and Truecrypt, which can be 
used to encrypt data held on the disk. All of that adds 
up to a very usable and attractive small-business 
storage solution. Alan Stevens 



By connecting to a Hypertec 
Firestorm disk using eSata we 
got double the transfer rate 
possible with USB 



Verdict 



Pros eSata and USB interfaces; choice 

of capacities; bundled backup and 

encryption software 

Cons Lots of alternatives to 

choose from 

Overall With its eSata interface this 

external disk can match internal drives 

in terms of performance 

Features *** ^r 

Ease of use *** r* 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £72.85 (£62 ex Vat) - 
80GB Firestorm 

Contact Hypertec 0870 243 5603 
Specifications Excelstor Jupiter 
7,200rpm Sata hard disk • USB2 and 
eSata interfaces • Bundled USB cable, 
eSata cable and Sata to eSata adapter 
• Syncback SE backup software • 
Truecrypt encryption utility 



126 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



REVIEWS < BUSINESS 



POWER MANAGEMENT 




Modus Interactive Powerwise W^ 



Go green with this energy-saving software 



^^v^ 



BUSINESS 
RECOMMENDED 



5; 



liiJiirniLmnr^in^FTTHi 



ModiFy "Preset Profile" 

Manage settings for this Power Profile 



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General Schedule User Notifications 



Select an event to modifv its properties 
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Days: Qsu [v]Mt] 0TLJ 0We 0Th Eft dSfl 



Powerwise profiles can be used to apply different power saving 
schemes at different times of the day, or even on particular days 



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Csred 



Soaring electricity prices have prompted more and 
more companies to look for ways of managing 
the amount of energy they consume. A number 
of utilities are now available which centrally control 
how much energy PCs use. One such utility is Night 
Watchman, which we reviewed in the March issue (see 
www.pcw.co.uk/2207429), and another is Powerwise from 
Modus Interactive. 

Unlike the command-line scripted Night Watchman 
software, Powerwise is managed via a familiar Windows 
GUI and comes in three parts, starting with a central 
server installed and run as a background service. 

Despite the name, the Powerwise server can be 
hosted on any machine running Windows 2000 or 
later. For our tests we installed and used it on a virtual 
machine running Windows XP. However, because it 
relies on TCP/IP connections, a Windows server would 
be a better choice on large networks. 

The server install takes a couple of minutes, with a 
separate Windows console used to manage the 
product, while the third component is an agent that 
needs to be installed onto every PC you want to 
manage. The agent can be installed on both desktops 
and servers, and pushed out and remotely installed 
using a console wizard. Alternatively, the software can 
be pulled down and installed using a browser, and 
support for group policy deployment and the use of 
third-party distribution tools are also included. 

Active Directory integration comes as standard but 
isn't a prerequisite, and the software can also be used 
on small Windows workgroup networks. It doesn't take 
long to get to grips with the way Powerwise works, 
mainly because it's simple to use. 

Network clients can be manually added via the 



console or automatically discovered and grouped 
together for ease of management. The Powerwise 
console then makes it easy for administrators to 
remotely manage any of the Windows power settings 
more usually set via the local control panel. 

From the console, for example, we were able to view 
the power status of individual client PCs, turn off 
monitors, reboot or power them down remotely. Those 
with support for Wake-on-Lan (WoL) could also be 
powered up, for example, to allow updates to be applied 
out of hours. We were also able to apply power 
management tasks to groups of PCs and remotely. 

All of that is fine, but most administrators will want 
to automate procedures, for which it's possible to both 
apply and design custom power profiles. Profiles, in 
turn, let you schedule different settings and events to 
be applied to individual PCs or groups of computers 
according to time of day and day of the week. 

For example, we were able to enforce a shutdown 
every night and automatically power up test PCs on 
weekday mornings using a custom Powerwise profile. 
In between, we ensured maximum performance by 
applying only minimal savings during core working 
hours, with more aggressive settings at other times. 
Users can also be stopped from altering power settings 
and warnings displayed when a remote shutdown or 
other scheduled operation is about to begin. 

Powerwise has little impact on the host network 
with very little traffic generated between clients and 
the central server, making for a very scalable solution. 
Basic report facilities are also provided and, once set 
up, the amount of management required is minimal. 
For the most part you can simply forget about it, sit 
back and enjoy the savings. Alan Stevens 



Verdict 



Pros Works with desktops and 
servers; graphical management 
console; profiles for automation 
Cons Windows only 
Overall Easy to use, this tool really 
could help cut power bills 
Features *** ^ 

Ease of use ***** 

Value for money *****^ 



Overall 



****^ 



Price £11,75 (£10 ex Vat) 
per seat (discounts for 
more than 500 seats) 

Contact Modus Interactive 
020 8819 8040 
www.modus-interactive.co.uk 
System requirements 

Server: Windows 2000/XP/Vista or 
Windows 2000/2003 Server • 10MB 
Ram • 70MB free disk space 
Client: Windows 2000 or later 
(desktop or server) • 10MB Ram • 
500KB free disk space 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



127 




^Personal. 

Computer 

\ffe7li Direct 



WI0mi2 



^s.<h 




Exercise 

._^^r^+ \lOl 



brainl 



a brilliant effort and, 
for jigsaw addicts it's 
probably worth the 
money for Jigsaw 
Mania alone. 



As reveiwed in Computeractive 
- issue 245 



Overall***** 



N IN JA BRAIN 

Workout 

£x«j]cJ3e your miad 



£x«j]cJ3e your miad... 



20!^^^^^=^ r^ind to its limits with 

YOU can push your mnOj^E, 






EilhtCTallenginsGanes! 



^ud^kj quest 

SudokuX 

KlllorSiH^kJ 

^ JIfiM* Mania 



RRP £19.99 

Your Price 
Only £14,99+ £1.99 p&p 

Save £5.00 today! 



8 great 
games in 1 ! 



Get 8 brilliant mind boggling games 
in just one great software package: 



• Sudoku quest: The highly addictive and 
challenging puzzle game that's taking over the 
world! Fill the blank spaces in the grid with the 
numbers 1-9, making sure that no column, row 
or 3 X 3 block has two of the same number 

• Crosswords: These traditional word puzzles 
which appear in newspapers and magazines 
throughout the world, now come to life on 
your PC! 

• Jigsaw Mania: The ultimate in Computer 
Jigsaw games! Have great fun making your 
own Jigsaws - simply scan in any image you 
like. This awarding winning game also comes 
with over 61 Jigsaws ready to play 

• Great wall of words: Link letters and build 
words in this addictive new puzzle game. Find 
the longest, most unusual words to get higher 
points! 

• Mahjong JoE: This classic Chinese tile 
arranging game come with a remarkable twist! 
Embark on a new mahjong journey featuring an 
"Adventure mode" and the all-new "free-play 
mode", plus over 1 ,000 hidden items to find! 

• Solitaire: A unique puzzle challenge! Remove 
the marbles from the board until only one 
remains. See if you have what it takes to 
complete this twisted brainteaser! 

• Killer Sudoku: Are you brave enough to try 
this fiendish version of Suduko! 

• Suduko X: An additional variation of Sudoku to 
test your Sudoku abilities to the maximum 



System Requirements: Windows Vista/XP/2000 Pro, Pentium SOOMhz, 128Mb memory, 100Mb Hard disk space 



Order your copy todayi^gflH 

www.direct-pcw.co.uk 01858 438883 



E^ YES. I would like to buy 

(Enter quantity required) 

Q Copies of Ninja Brain Workout 

OMLY £14.99 

+ £1 .99 p&p 



TOTAL 



Complete and post tills form to: 
PCW Direct, Tower House, 
Sovereign Park, IVIarket Harborougli, 
Leicester, LE16 9EF 



Please allow up to 28 days for delivery 
(Orders usually received within 7-10 days) 



Your Details (Block capitals) 
Title Initials 



Email 



Post Code _ 



Telephone no._ 



Subs No. 

(if known) 

*You will find this on t 
PCW is delivered in. 



Payment Options (Please indicate your preferred method of payment) 

i^J Cheque Enclosed for £ (Made payable to VNU Business Publications Ltd) 

i^J Please Charge £ to my 

Visa i^J MasterCard i^J Amex i^J Delta i^J Switch/Maestro i^J Issue No. 



Card No. 



nnnn nnnn 



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Date 



PCW and PCW Direct are published by VNU Business Publications, part of the Incisive Media Group. 
□ Tick box to receive information about products and services from the Incisive Media Group by email. □ Tick box to receive 
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(CODEPC10) 



REVIEWS < BUSINESS 



DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT 



Nuance PDF Converter Professional 5 



Do more with PDF documents for less cash 



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BEST BUY 



BUSINESS 
RECOMMENDED 



With PDF 
Converter 
Professional 5, 
you can convert 
editable Word 
and other 
documents to 
PDF format and 
back again 



The Portable Document Format (PDF) and 
Adobe's Acrobat go together like bread and 
butter, but Acrobat isn't the only application 
capable of creating, editing and managing PDF 
documents. Running a close second in the popularity 
stakes, PDF Converter Professional from Nuance can 
do all that Acrobat can, plus a little bit more, for less. 

Around a third of the price of the standard Acrobat 
package, PDF Converter Pro lets you turn almost any 
document into a PDF that can be read by any program 
that supports the format. Some documents are 
converted indirectly by printing to a special driver, but 
most from within the host application itself, with 
support for a wide range of programs including, 
naturally, everything Microsoft has to offer. 

Of course, for that to be possible, suitable program 
extensions have to be installed, together with a variety 
of standalone converter tools, which are also included 
in the package. That, though, is all taken care of by the 
same setup program which, like the software itself, we 
found easy to use and understand. It's also pretty quick 
- the already very fast conversions have been further 
speeded up in the new version. 

Other enhancements include support for PDF 
packages, as introduced in the latest Adobe PDF 1 .7 
format, and XPS, Microsoft's rival portable document 
technology. The ability to handle the new Office 2007 
document types has also been added, along with 
facilities to embed sound and video files inside a PDF 
and include 3D objects, which can be rotated, panned 
and zoomed by the Nuance editing tools. 

Distance, perimeter and area-measuring tools 
have been added, along with other tools to 
compare PDF documents, split a PDF, extract 



pages and add a table of contents based on bookmarks 
within a document. 

Imposition facilities enable you to do booklet 
production, along with enhancements to stamps and 
watermarks, and the ability to search within PDF 
documents using Windows Desktop Search. 

There's very little Acrobat can do that the Nuance 
software can't, and it also has a few tricks to teach the 
Adobe developers, not least the ability to convert PDF 
files to editable documents, ready for use in Word and 
other programs. This is done using Omni Page OCR 
(optical character recognition) technology, also owned 
by Nuance, which means it's subject to all the 
limitations that entails. But it does work and we were 
impressed by the accuracy of the results and the fact 
that, as well as the text itself, formatting and layout 
settings were neatly preserved in our conversion tests. 

Document security is another area well catered for 
and enhanced in this release, while yet another new 
feature to catch our eye was the ability to archive 
Outlook email messages to PDF, complete with their 
attachments. Not only can this save on mailbox space, 
it will also help companies striving for regulatory 
compliance, especially those that currently print emails 
to provide an audit trail. 

There's certainly a lot to PDF Converter 
Professional 5, and our only real concern is the need 
to understand and learn a range of different tools, 
many of which will rarely be used, if at all, such as the 
tool that can read out your PDF documents. Still, 
there will be users who want these options and it's 
better to have them than not. Indeed, for small 
companies looking for an affordable alternative to 
Adobe Acrobat, this is it. Alan Stevens 



Verdict 



Pros Fast and accurate; cheaper 
than Acrobat; converts to and from 
PDF; wide format support; archives 
email to PDF; good integration with 
host applications 

Cons Large number of tools to learn 
Overall It may take second billing to 
Acrobat, but the Nuance equivalent is 
cheaper and just as good, if not better 
Features **** 

Ease of use **** k 

Value for money ***** 



Overall 



***** 



Price £99 (£84.25 ex Vat) 

Contact Nuance 01483 794 444 

www.nuance.co.uk 

System requirements 

Pentium-class processor • 512MB 
Ram • 250MB free disk space • 
Windows 2000 or later (32-bit and 
64-bit editions of XP and Vista 
supported) 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



129 



BUSINESS MICROMART > CALL 020 7316 9420 ^ ]::Z::^::^^^i:^sZ^'^^e 9420 



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Duplication & Encoding 

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Digital Media 

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Software 

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Hardware 

Pitney Bowes 131 



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Two utitities - complete control of your printing 

The FinePrintS printer driver can save you 
75% of your paper, and 50% of your ink 

Controls any printer ^^^ 

* Automatic booklet output 

* Simple overlay creation 

* The preview r&aliy ts 
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* Combines multiple 
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- intD 1 booklet 

- adds new headers etc ^^ 

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* EfTective web page print options 

R^aJly does make piinUng; predictable, flexible & less expensive. 



pdffhctoryS creates PDFsfrom any software 



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FinePrint 5 and pdf Factory cost £32 each, £38 the pain 
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130 



www.pcw.co.ui< June 2008 



S)p Pitney Bowes 





Franked Mail is cheaper than Stannped Mail 

- and thats official! 

Royal Mail are delivering a strong nnessage to businesses by providing 
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^Personal. 

Computer 

World Direct 



■OE© FIMii aigJMi pffite 

Find out everything you need to know about buying and 
using the latest Sat-nav devices for work, rest and play 



/D[feD/MMf]^ 




YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE INCLUDES: 

• 20 pages of product & buying advice • 

• Worl<shops, features, hints & tips • 



Plain English and jargon-free 
Free Sat-nav software for your PC 




BfeagsHjE 



Sat-nav basics 

Covering everything from liow to get started witii 
in-car Sat-nav, clioosing the right products, to a 
no-nonsense explanation of the technology. 

Inside GPS 

Learn how to use advance GPS features, including 
leisure & fitness uses as well as on the road. 

GPS and your PC 

Find out how to use PC tools to help with route 
planning and even how to pinpoint the location of 
holiday photographs! 

Sat-nav tips & trici^s 

Change the voice on your Sat-nav, create a custom 
list of places, share your routes with Google Earth and 
much, much, more. 



Windows Vista 
Troubleshooting 



Upgrade to Vista properly, repair a damaged 

installation or reinstall Vista from scratch 

Run Vista smoothly with our tips for preventing 

problems before they've even happened 

Identify and eliminate viruses, spyware, spam 

and other security threats 

Recover lost or deleted files, fix Registry 

problems, address issues with printers, sound, 

graphics and wireless networking 

Find out what Vista error messages mean 



<3^ 

WIRELESS 



Become an Expert in 
Wireless Home Networking 



A simple, no-nonsense explanation of the 
different wireless technologies and what to 
look for 

Discover how wireless home networking 
makes it easy to share files and information 
between PCs 

Leam how you can access content from 

the internet around the home 

Find out how to use wireless on the move 



lace your order today! 

www.direct-pcw.co.uk 01858 438883 



3^ YES. I would like to buy 

(Enter quantity required) 

The Computeractive Ultimate 
Guide to: 

□ Sat-nav & GPS 

□ Vista Troubleshooting 

□ Home Networking 




Your Details (Block capitals) 
Title Initials 



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Address 



Post Code _ 



Telephone no._ 



+ £0.99 p&p per it em 



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House, Sovereign Park, Market Harborough, 
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(CODE PCI 2) 



Practical advice from the industry's experts 



EDITED BY NIGEL WHITFIELD 



UPGRADE BY DOWNGRADING 



m 

^^^Kf In the world of computers, sometimes we prefer to stick with what 

^^^^^W\ we know. Vista is a case in point, and many people have been 
^^^^^K^ ' cautious about making the leap. In this month's Hardware and 
Performance columns, we discover the effects of changing back to XP on a modern 
laptop, while in Word Processing we show how you can achieve some of the 
functionality of Word 2007 in Word 2003. 

If you're keen for a clearout, take a look at Digital Imaging where we look at the 
best way to take photos for selling online, while in the Sound column we explain 
how you can create your own ringtones for mobile phones. 

We've also got some tips for NTFS users in the Windows column and continue 
our back to basics season in Databases. Spreadsheet users can find out about Excel's 
status bar and, in the Linux world, we have a look at the Fedora distribution. For 
Vista users, we've more on Service Pack 1 and how it will affect performance, and 
in Visual Programming you can learn how to make the most of the new Powershell. 



CONTENTS 



134 QUESTION TIME 

Get the answers to some 
burning questions from 
our experts 

138 HARDWARE 

Ensuring peak performance 
from your laptop may mean 
'downgrading' to XP. 
Discover the pros and cons 
of moving away from Vista 

140 PERFORMANCE 

Can adding memory to your 
laptop have unforeseen 
consequences for Vista 
users? We find out 

142 WINDOWS 

The mystery of a new 
Windows tab solved, and 
how to hide files in XP 



144 LINUX/UNIX 

Fedora support is strong. We 
delve into this distribution 
and show you how to install 
and use it 

146 DIGITAL IMAGING 
& VIDEO 

Find out how to take 
studio-quality photos to help 
sell things on Ebay 

148 WORD 

PROCESSING 

Remove private information 
and add some Word 2007 
tricks to the 2003 version 

150 SPREADSHEETS 

The Status Bar in Excel has 
improved - find out all about 
its new features 



HvO 



^*i VtJVWV ''kr^nr^' L ^ ^ ^ 










AmiLLi 



m 



MJiiiJ. 



U^w^jrr'W'm* rrvTL' w jfc | 



152 SOUND 

Convert songs into ringtones 
using a few simple tools 

154 NETWORKS 

A guide to encrypting 
Powerline networks, and 
more about Vista's first 
Service Pack 

156 DATABASES 

Find out how a database 
engine works, and we 
explain a query for 
organising fishing data 

158 VISUAL 

PROGRAMMING 

How to convert your music 
files with Windows' new 
scripting environment 



Far left: 
Create your 
own ring 
tones (see 
page 152) 

Left: Scan or 
photograph 
items to sell 
on Ebay (see 
page 146) 




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I 



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June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



133 



HANDS ON > QUESTION TIME 



Advice from our experts 

PCWs experts solve all your computing problems 



DATABASES 

QI have just installed xampp 
on my Windows machine to 
get Apache, MySQL and 
PHP. I've looked at the MySQL 
documentation to try to create my 
first database, but it assumes I am 
using Linux. 

I can't find any help on creating a 
MySQL database in Windows, which 
I assume you can do. 

I would also like to know how to 
transfer data from an existing Access 
database - I am quite competent at 
creating relational databases using 
Access and Paradox and I assume 
the principles are the same. 

Once I've mastered that, I'd be 
looking at incorporating it into a 
website - but that's probably quite 
a way off yet! 
Barrie Potter 

A My first port of call would be 
somewhere like http://dev.mysql. 
com/doc/refman/5.0/en/windows- 
installation.html. Transferring the data 
shouldn't be too much of a trial 
because Access can export in so many 
formats. One of them must be 
acceptable to MySQL. CSV and XML 
are the two I would try first. 

DIGITAL IMAGING 

QI'd like to buy a digital 
projector so that I can give 
slideshows to smallish 
groups in smallish rooms. Hence, I 
don't need enormous power or 
range. Good movie capability isn't 
important, either. Any suggestions? 
I also need a laptop to drive the 
thing. I have no other need to own a 
laptop so, again, expense becomes an 
issue. It occurred to me that the Linux 
pocket laptop featured in the March 
issue of PCW might be just the ticket; 
although it's short on memory, this 
could be supplied by the USB stick 
I'd need to use to transfer the images. 

Does Linux offer a slideshow 
program? Could it be persuaded to 
run a show created in Photoshop 
Elements? Also, does it offer 




^^j^ 



For slideshows, 
a projector such 
as the Benq 
W500 needn't 
break the bank 



anything like Powerpoint? If so, and 
I am using that program but everyone 
else is using a Windows laptops with 
Powerpoint, perhaps any distribution 
of my presentations is going to be 
difficult. Perhaps I shall need a 
Windows laptop after all! 
Eric Webb 

A Our home projectors group test 
in the March issue featured 
several models at around the 
£700 price point (see Benq W500 
pictured above) that would suit your 
purpose well - and they make a fine 
job of movies, too. Depending on your 
version, and whether you also have 
Premiere Elements, Photoshop 
Elements can produce slideshows in 
WMV, DVD video, VCD or Acrobat 
PDF format, so a Linux movie player 
with the right codecs, such as Mplayer, 

Impress, part of Open Office, is a 
good alternative to Powerpoint' 

or Acrobat Reader for Linux will play 
them. For a Linux DVD slideshow- 
authoring tool try DVD -slideshow 
from http://dvd-slideshow.sourceforge.net/ 
wiki/Main_Page. 

Impress, part of the Open Office 
suite, is a good alternative to 
Powerpoint and you can save 
presentations as .ppt files. So, it looks 
as if the Asus Eee PC 4G 701 might be 
the one for you after all! 



HARDWARE 

Q Having had an unsatisfactory 
computer experience six 
years ago, I have avoided 
buying another - using a 
subscription to your magazine and 
the steady diet of virus -threat stories 
to ward off any impulse to purchase, 
and using library-accessible internet 
and email instead. 

This worked until a recent flurry 
of emails caused me to have to 
repeatedly drive the eight-mile return 
journey to my library. Gordon Laing's 
review of the Asus Eee lured me into 
buying the 2 GB Eee for basic access, 
but it is only equipped for Wifi access. 

As the broadband is poor in my 
area and I only want simple access, 
what is the cheapest method of 
getting the machine dial-up 
connectivity? I have no other 
computer or optical drive. Can Wifi 
do dial-up? Are the necessary drivers 
in this model, or should I consign the 
Asus to the back of the wardrobe? 
John Townson 

A The Asus Eee PC is also 
equipped with a wired 
Ethernet port, but that's not 
much use if you don't have anything 
to connect it to. What you're ideally 
looking for is a wireless 56K modem 
that uses Wifi. 

The closest we could find was a £50 
model by Zoom, but sadly it uses 
Bluetooth rather than Wifi for the 
wireless aspect. If you can find a 
Bluetooth dongle with drivers for the 
Eee PC's Linux, then you could be in 
luck, but it depends on how much you 
want to spend. 

The other alternative is to buy an 
external 56K modem with a USB 
connection and support for the Eee 
PC's Linux. It's not wireless, but it's 
your best bet for getting your Eee PC 
online with a dial-up connection. 

Dynamode's M56EXT-USB-T costs 
less than £20 on Amazon and has 
Linux drivers, but we can't verify 
whether these would work with the 
Eee. If you go for it, you'll also need 



134 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS QUESTION TIME 
Go to www.pcw.co.uk/tags/faq 



QUESTION TIME < HANDS ON 



some means to get the drivers from 
the supplied CD onto your Eee - aslc a 
friend to copy them on to a USB key 
or SD memory card. Contact 
www.dynamode.net for more details. 
As a side note, the Eee PC does 
have space for a 56K modem socket, 
but all the versions we've seen so far 
have had this blanked. 

QWith the impending arrival 
of my first grandchild, I'm 
being badgered to set up 
some sort of video Iinl<:. Is it possible 
to use an old digital camera, and is 
there any softvs^are that avoids the 
Microsoft Messenger clutter that I've 
spent ages getting rid of? 
Roy Houghton 

A Most digital cameras are unable 
to deliver the required live 
video feed through their USB 
ports and so can't be used as webcams. 
Even if they could, their battery and 
power-saving mechanisms would 
make them frustrating at best for this 
application. We'd advise buying a 
dedicated webcam - models such as 
Microsoft's VXIOOO cost about £15. 



As for software for video calls, we'd 
recommend Skype from www.skype.com. 
It's free of charge, but both parties will 
need a copy installed on their systems. 
You'll also both need broadband. 

QI get Digital TV through a 
Virgin Media set-top box 
that has an unused Ethernet 
socket on the back. Would I use a 
Patch or Crossover cable to connect to 
my notebook and what would be the 
possibilities? 
Mike 

A The Ethernet socket on your 
set-top box is for delivering 
Virgin's broadband service. If 
you have broadband as part of your TV 
package, you'd normally connect this 
port to a separate router. 

Your PC, laptop and other 
internet devices would then connect 
to the router either wirelessly or with 
a cable. 

SPREADSHEETS 

QIs it possible to create a 
SUMIF command that 
excludes a specific type of 



item? I have an Excel spreadsheet 
for my bank accounts. Sometimes I 
lay out money for my business, 
which is reimbursed. 

I've created a SUMIF function 
to calculate how much I lay out for 
the business using: 
=SUIVIIF(B1 :B10, "Business", C1 :C10) 
That's easy enough, but I am unable 
to create a formula such as this: 
=SUIVIIF(B1:B10,N0T 
Nor one such as this: 
<>"Business",C1:C10) 
Am I doing something wrong? 
Salo Heimann 

A You could use the formula: 
=SUIVI(IF($B$1:$B$10<>i^ 
"Business", (C1:C10),0)) 

(Key: i^ code string continues) 

Use Ctrl & Shift & Enter and 
Excel will add curly brackets to 
acknowledge it recognises that this is 
an array formula (see screen 1). An 
alternative, less elegant, solution 
would be to total the whole column 
and then subtract the business 
expenses, with the formula: 
=SUIVI(C1:C10)-SUIVIIF(B1:B10,^ 
"Business", C1:C10) 



Domain name dilemmas 

INTERNEI 

QI am interested in owning my own domain name and have 
checked out various domain name providers that charge a 
very reasonable nominal fee; say, £10 for two years' 
registration of the name. 

They also provide other attractive associated facilities as part of 
the package, such as unlimited email addresses, alias addresses, 
web-creation software, email forwarding, web URL forwarding, etc, 
which are advertised as being 'worth £80', for example. 

However, it occurred to me, even though I am informed that the 
actual domain name re-registration would be either free with some 
providers, or just a few pounds with others after the initial two years is 
up, these hosts might then demand a hefty sum for continuing to 
provide all the aforementioned 'extras'. 

I have emailed several of these sites asking this very question and I 
have been ignored by most of them or, if they did reply, the answer 
was very vague and still left me wondering. 
Brian Lawrence 

A In our experience, the domain name registration market is 
very competitive and it's most unusual to see prices rise after 
the initial registration, certainly if you choose one of the 
well-known companies. It's also, unfortunately, a sad fact that many 
companies base their business model on selling huge numbers of 
domains cheaply, via automated websites, leaving little time or money 
for answering questions such as yours. 

On the whole, the special offers of web design software are 
seldom the latest and greatest packages, and we would not 
recommend you consider those when making a choice of Registrar. 



Look instead to ensure they're ICANN accredited, and check for fees 
in the small print should you wish to move your domain away in 
future - reputable registrars don't charge you to leave them. 

It's also worth looking for sites that allow your domain to be 
'locked', therefore making it harder for someone else to make 
unauthorised changes, and for ones that allow you full DNS control if 
you want it, so you can set up whatever you want on servers of your 
own if your site grows. 

In PCWs Web Development column, we've used 123-Reg, 
Fasthosts, Free Parking and Easily from the UK, as well as 
Godaddy.com. 










Use a reputable registrar such as Godaddy or Free Parl<ing and you 
shouldn't have any unpleasant surprises when renewing your domain 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



135 



HANDS ON > QUESTION TIME 





C1 1 ' ^ {=SUIVI(IF($BS1 .$B$lO<>"Busitiess"' 


(C1C10)))} 




A 1 B i C ID 


E F 


1 


Food £ 45.00 


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3 


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Gifts 25.00 






4 


Business 25.00 






5 


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Personal 14.00 






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13 








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QWe manage properties that 
have differing financial year 
ends. I have been entering 
this information in a column vs^ith a 
simple date format of dd/mmm. I 
therefore end up vs^ith a schedule of 
properties and various year-end 
dates; for example, 31/03, 30/06, etc. 

Sadly, when I try to sort these I 
do not end up vs^ith all the 3 1/03 
properties together. Upon 
investigation I see that this depends 
upon the year in vs^hich I have 
entered this information. So, if I 
enter 31/03 v^hen it's 2007 this v^ill 
return a different number than if I 
enter 31/03 v^hen the year is 2006 or 
2008 and so on. 

Is there a simple vs^ay round this? 
I have ended up adding a column 
w^ith the month number so I can sort 
it that way. 
Martin Cleaver 

A If you only enter the day 
and month of a date, the 
spreadsheet will usually add 
the current year. It needs to add one 
year or another because what is stored 
is a count of days, typically from the 
start of the century. You can see this 
number if you display formulas instead 
of the normal display. 

If you want to add a date from 
another year, always enter the date 
using d/m/yyyy. It's not enough to 
enter a two-digit year. In the default 
setup of Excel, for instance, if you 
enter 2/8/29 it will be displayed as 
2/8/2029 because you are asking Excel 
to guess the century. 

What is displayed in the cell 
depends on the formatting you have 
set up. What is stored, and what the 
spreadsheet will use for calculating or 
sorting, is the underlying date number. 



QI'm using Excel 2007. 1 
need to sort a list of dates 
so that the current year is 
first and the oldest year last, but 
the dates within those years are 
in chronological order. How can I 
do that? 
Syeda Shetty 

A If your dates are in column 
A starting with cell A2, head 
the adjacent columns Year, 
Month and Day. In B2 enter: 
=YEAR(A2) 
In C2 enter: 
=IVI0NTH(A2) 
In D2 enter: 
=DAY(A2) 

Drag these formulas down to the 
end of your dates. Click anywhere in 
the table. Under the Home tab click 
Sort & Filter, Custom Sort. Complete 
the first row of the Sort box so it reads. 
Year, Values, Largest to Smallest. Click 
Add Level. Complete the next row 
with, Month, Values, Smallest to 
Largest. Add a third level reading 
Day, Values, Smallest to Largest (see 
screen 2). Click OK. After obtaining 
your result you can hide or delete the 
extra three columns, if you wish. 



Q 



The label on my cylindrical 
hot water tank reads, 36" x 
18''. Is there an Excel 



Sorting dates 
chronologically, 
but with the 
current year first 



formula to convert those dimensions 
into its capacity in gallons? 

Syed Irtizall 

A Using a standard mensurration 
rule, it's easy to create one. The 
volume of a cylinder is Pi times 
the radius squared times the height. 
You can multiply cubic inches by 
0.003605 to convert them to gallons 
(Imperial not US). So, if you enter 36 
in cell B2, and 18 in B 3, in cell B4 you 
can enter the formula: 
=PI ( ) * ( (B3/2) "2) *B2*0 . 003605 

In your case, that comes to 33 
gallons, but as such a tank probably 
has a domed top and pipes taking up 
space inside it's probably best to call it 
a 30 -gallon tank. 

WINDOWS 

QTry as I may, whenever I 
want to access the Windows 
XP Security Center to check 
the status section, I get a screen that 
tells me the Security Center has not 
started, or is switched off. 

It then tells me to exit the 
window, restart and click on 
Control Panel, and then open the 
Security Center. All I get is the 
same screen again! 
Dennis Broadway 

A This sounds as if the Security 
Center service is not running. 
Go to Start, Run and type 
Services. msc, then press Enter. Scroll 
down to 'Security Center' and check 
that its status is 'Started' and set to 
'Automatic Startup' type. If not, 
double-click on the entry and you'll be 
able to rectify this (see screen 3). 

QCan you please tell me what 
facilities I can release by 
using the Print Screen key 
on the top of the keyboard? 

Joe Leaf 

A The legend on the Print Screen 
key (sometimes written as 
PrtScn or similar) goes back to 
Dos days, when it did - if you were 





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lucky - what it said on the Icey. In 
Windows, however, it copies an image 
of the desktop to the clipboard. 

You can then paste this into an 
imaging program, such as Windows 
Paint, then save it, or paste it into a 
document. 

If you hold down the Alt key 
when you press Print Screen, then 
just the active window or dialogue 
box is captured. 

WORD PROCESSING 

QWhen I used Microsoft Word, 
there was an option to select 
an entire word automatically. 
I'm now using Open Office Writer, 
but can't find a similar option. Have I 
missed something? 
John Church 

A You haven't missed anything, 
but as with practically all 
Windows text- editing, 
double -clicking in a word will select it. 
Triple -clicking selects a sentence. 

Click, then Shift-click elsewhere 
selects all the text between the 
two clicks. 

Q Having installed Word 2007 
almost a year ago, I wonder 
if there is a possibility of 
making a minor change to speed up 
one particular task. I make frequent 
use of watermarks when writing 
letters, in that I send copies of 
correspondence to other people with 
the word 'COPY' used diagonally as 
a watermark. 

To do this I have to click on 
Watermark on the Page Layout 
ribbon. The dropdown menu has 
some preselected watermarks, but 
'COPY' isn't included, so I then have 
to click on 'Custom Watermark', then 



'Text Watermark' and then pick 
'COPY' from the dropdown menu. 

Is it possible to add 'COPY' to the 
preselected offerings? 

Mark Appleyard 

A Yes, but it's not quite as 
straightforward as the other 
Building Blocks we've covered 
in recent columns. 

First, create your custom 
watermark. Then switch to the Insert 
ribbon, open Header, then Edit Header. 

You will find that you can click on 
the watermark and select it. Just 
switch back to the Page Layout 
ribbon, open the Watermark gallery 
again, then 'Save Selection to 
Watermark Gallery'. 



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QI am using Microsoft Word 
to create some place cards 
for a table setting where I 
want people's names visible on both 
sides of the card. I have created a 
suitable size table with required 
motifs and need to print one name 
the correct way up, and the other to 
be upside down and back to front. 

I can do this by importing 
graphics, or using Wordart, but these 
are cumbersome methods. Is there a 
simple command to type upside 
down and backwards? 
Ron Hak 

Alt isn't possible to type upside 
down in a word table or text 
box. But it is possible to run 
type sideways; that is, top to bottom or 
bottom to top. Just create a two- 
column, single-row table and set the 
left cell to run top to bottom and the 
right bottom to top from Format, Text 
Direction (see screen 4). 

Q Although I'm getting on 
fairly well with Word 2007, 
there's one feature that has 
me baffled. If I type all or part of a 
date - April 2008, for example - and 
then start a new line. Word appends 
the current month and day. I'm sure 
there used to be a way of turning this 
off in previous versions. 
Mike Ellis 

A In previous versions, this could 
be disabled by unticking 'Show 
Autocomplete Suggestions' in 
Autotext options. However, according 
to Microsoft, this can't be turned off in 
2007. If you press Esc before Enter, or 
press Shift & Enter, this will stop the 
behaviour on a one-off basis. PCW 



LET us HELP YOU 



All our experts welcome your 
queries. Please respond to the 
appropriate address below 

Databases database@pcw.co.uk 
Digital imaging 6r video 

digitalimaging@pcw.co.uk 
Hardware hardware@pcw.co.uk 
Linux linux@pcw.co.uk 
Networks networks@pcw.co.uk 
Performanceperformance@pcw.co.uk 
Sound sound@pcw.co.uk 
Spreadsheetsspreadsheets@pcw.co.uk 
Visual programming visual@pcw.co.uk 
Web development webdev@pcw.co.uk 
Windows win@pcw.co.uk 
Word processing wp@pcw.co.uk 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.ul< 



137 



HANDS ON > HARDWARE 




Gordon Laing has been a hardware 
enthusiast since his first Sinclair ZX80 and 
as a former editor of PCW and contributor 
for over 10 years, what he doesn't l<now 
about technology isn't worth knowing. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Hardware column. 

Email hardware@pcw.co.uk 
Please do not send unsolicited 
file attachments. 



Portable power 



Ensuring peal< performance from your laptop may mean 'downgrading' to XP 



With each new 
version of Windows, 
Microsoft introduces 
technologies it claims 
will improve performance, but the end 
result isn't always a faster experience. 
Greater overheads along with more 
sophisticated visuals and indexing can 
seriously impact overall performance, 
and one of the greatest offenders in 
these respects is Vista. 

Every owner of Vista has 
experienced the constant disk chatter 
after startup, as the Superfetch (and 
optional Readyboost) caches are 
populated. Both technologies can 
improve overall performance once 
they're populated with data, but that 
process can render PCs unusable for 
the first few minutes after power- up. 

In last month's column we 
benchmarked a freshly unpacked Sony 
TZ-series laptop running Vista and 
were shocked at how slow the default 
shipping configuration was. At first 
glance the blame could be levelled at 
Vista running on modest hardware 
but, upon closer examination, the 
bigger culprit was a system clogged 
with promotional software trials and 
unnecessary startup items. 

After a spring clean, the laptop was 
performing quite respectably. In this 
month's Hardware and Performance 
columns, we're measuring the impact 
of a memory upgrade along with the 
ultimate salute to Vista: wiping the 
hard disk and 'downgrading' to 
Windows XP. The latter is a more 
involved process, so we're devoting 
the Hardware column to it. 

'Downgrading' to XP 

Windows XP is seen by many 
enthusiasts as a swift, efficient and 
reliable alternative to Vista, without 
compromising on functionality and 
support for modern devices. As such, 
it's not surprising that the solution to 




countless threads of laptop forums 
complaining of poor Vista performance 
is to 'downgrade' to XP. 

The big issue with laptops though 
is that there are a number of often 
proprietary system components that 
require drivers to operate properly - 
and many modern laptops designed 
for use with Vista may not have 
drivers for older versions of Windows. 

One solution is to re-use XP drivers 
for older models from the same 
company, as these can sometimes 
work fine. Of course, the device 
functionality may be reduced, or 
the older driver may not work at all, 
but it's a trial-and-error process that 
many dedicated enthusiasts have 
gone through - so before taking the 
plunge, do a web search for XP 
drivers for your particular laptop to 
see what's available and what others 
have achieved with older software. 
A great resource for laptop users is 
http://forum.notebookreview.com. 

Ideally the manufacturer will 
realise there's sufficient demand for XP 
drivers and provide them itself. These 
are often posted 'as-is' for enthusiasts 

When installing an OS on a laptop, there's 
more than just drivers involved. 
Fortunately Sony also provides versions of 
its battery, power and hard disk protection 
utilities for those installing XP 



TheVaioTZ150N 
ultraportable laptop 
looks great, but the 
default Vista 
configuration 
results in lousy 
performance. 
'Downgrading' to 
Windows XP, 
though, resulted 
in a transformation 
in speed 



to try, with disclaimers that you may 
not subsequently enjoy the complete 
functionality of your laptop. 

Sony is one such manufacturer, 
with its Vista laptops being criticised 
in many forums for disappointing 
performance. So in September last 
year, it posted a set of XP drivers 
for all the Vaio computers that 
it shipped with Vista - see 
http://esupport.sony.com/perl/ 
news-item.pl?template=EN&news_id=221. 

Sony explains that these drivers are 
"intended to provide basic system 
functionality under Windows XP" and 
adds "because these computers are 
optimised for use with Windows Vista, 
some functionality will be lost under 
Windows XP". For example, some 
function keys and special buttons may 
not work properly, while the battery 
life may not be as good. 

We decided to 'downgrade' our 
own Sony Vaio TZ series laptop to see 
how XP compares with Vista on this 
popular ultraportable model. 

Installing XP on a laptop 

Installing Windows XP on a laptop is 
essentially no different from installing 
it on a desktop. You'll boot from the 



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138 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON HARDWARE Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/hardware 



HARDWARE < HANDS ON 



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partition then, once complete, install 
the required drivers for the various 
devices. Since your laptop may not 
have access to the internet straight 
away, it's a good idea to download the 
drivers using another system first and 
copy them either on to a CD or a Flash 
memory key for easy access. And since 
the 'downgrade' will involve wiping 
the hard disk, it goes without saying 
that you should back up important 
data before proceeding. 

Our test laptop was a Sony Vaio 
TZl 50N, bought in the US, and 
searching for it under the drivers and 
software section of Sony's support 
website at http://esupport.sony.com 
brought up a full list of downloadable 
options for Vista Business and XP. 
Filtering the list for XP listed 32 drivers 
and utilities - we downloaded and 
copied them to a USB memory key. 

With the drivers downloaded, we 
inserted the Windows XP CD into the 
laptop, restarted and began the 
Windows setup process; if your CD 
doesn't automatically start, enter your 
Bios settings and set the optical drive 
as the first boot device. 

After Windows completed its setup 
process, we installed the downloads 
one by one, starting with a Bios update 
followed by the chipset and graphics 
drivers, before working through the 
others. Sony advises doing these in a 
certain order and provides a list to 
follow. The process went smoothly. 

After installing the Intel graphics 
drivers for instance, Windows Device 
Manager still showed a couple of 
exclamation marks against VGA 
devices, but pointing these towards the 
downloaded Intel folder gave them the 
information they were looking for. 



Sony provides XP Likewise, a couple of unidentified 

drivers for its Vista base components were happy when 
computers for fed the Sony drivers for the Memory 

anyone who wants Stick and SD card slots, while the 
to 'downgrade'. Realtek audio was satisfied with a 

Despite the further download from Windows 

disclaimers we update. Windows XP also thought it 

experienced no had correctly identified the built-in 

problems webcam during the initial setup 

downgrading our process, but unfortunately it didn't 

Vaio TZ150N and, work with Microsoft's drivers. 

as Device Manager Installing Sony's own camera driver, 
shows here, no though, did the trick. Finally we 

pesky exclamation installed the Sony utilities, including 
marks those for power management and 

anti-shock hard disk support (see 
screen 1). The entire process took just 
less than three hours. 

Was it worth it? 

Before performing any formal tests, 
the laptop felt much quicker and 
responsive under Windows XP 
than it had with Vista. In terms of 
performance, the laptop previously 
took one minute and nine seconds 
from cold power-up to the Vista login 
screen, and a further five minutes 
after logging in before the disk activity 
slowed to point of usability. So from 
cold power-up to productivity with 
the default configuration, you were 
looking at about six minutes in total. 
In last month's Hardware column. 
Wiping Vista and we managed to cut that period down 

installing XP freed following logon to about a minute and 
up a lot of spare a half, but in total from cold power-up, 

storage on the you were still looking at about two 

TZ150N from and a half minutes. 

its default In stark contrast, our new Windows 

configuration and, XP installation took just 55 seconds 
to date, the only from cold power-up to complete 

aspect we haven't readiness, with all the Sony startup 

got working under utilities loaded and ready for action. 
XP is an icon for That's a serious improvement over the 

the Memory Stick default Vista configuration as shipped. 



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and over two and a half times quicker 
than our best tweaking effort. 

Shutting down was quicker too: the 
default Vista configuration took almost 
a minute and a half, while the new XP 
installation was completely powered 
down in 32 seconds. 

Despite Sony's disclaimers, 
everything appeared to work fine too, 
with no exclamation marks in Device 
Manager (see screen 2) and all of 
Sony's front-mounted buttons, 
keyboard function keys and both the 
battery and hard disk protection 
utilities happily talking to the 
hardware. The Wifi, audio and 
webcam were all operational, and the 
processor was also automatically 
adjusting its speed depending on load. 

Not only was the laptop quicker, 
but there was also significantly more 
hard disk space free. The shipping 
configuration with Vista had only half 
of its 100GB drive free for use and, 
while 7GB had been reserved for a 
recovery partition, that's still poor. 

After creating one partition for XP 
using all the available space and fully 
installing the operating system and all 
the Sony drivers and utilities, the 
laptop now had 88.5GB of 93.1GB 
remaining (see screen 3). That's better. 

Startup benefits 

Last month we demonstrated how 
spring cleaning the junk from even a 
brand-new Vista system can seriously 
improve its startup performance, but if 
you're willing to dispense with Vista 
entirely, there can be greater benefits 
by switching to Windows XP. 

It may seem like a step backwards 
at first, and indeed XP is missing many 
of Vista's bells and whistles, but if 
quick startups and a responsive system 
are more important to you than Flash 
features, then it's well worth 
considering. 'Downgrading' to XP 
transformed our test laptop and, while 
it's still early days, we'd highly 
recommend considering it on any Vista 
model that's struggling. 

Of course, the key to a successful 
downgrade is having the right drivers 
available, so always check with your 
manufacturer first and if they don't yet 
offer any XP drivers for a Vista model, 
put a request in. Enough people 
complained to Sony for it to offer 
decent XP support for its Vista models. 

If you've downgraded a Vista laptop 
or desktop we'd love to hear about it. 
We'll also report on any long-term 
issues in running XP on a laptop 
originally designed for Vista. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



139 



HANDS ON > PERFORMANCE 



MORE HANDS ON PERFORMANCE Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/hardware_performance 




Gordon Laing has been a hardware 
enthusiast since his first Sinclair ZX80 and 
as a former editor of PCW and contributor 
for over 10 years, what he doesn't l<now 
about technology isn't worth knowing. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Performance column. 

Email performance@pcw.co.uk 
Please do not send unsolicited 
file attachments. 



Bridging the memory gap 

Can adding memory to your laptop have unforeseen consequences for Vista users? 



In this and last month's Hardware 
columns we've been looking into 
ways of improving the 
performance of laptops running 
Windows Vista. The various caching 
technologies used by Vista may 
improve performance once your 
system is up and running, but at the 
cost of slow startup times. 

In this month's Hardware column 
we've switched our test laptop from 
Vista to XP. Here we'll examine the 
effect of adding more Ram to both the 
Vista and XP installations. 

Installing Ram in a laptop 

Laptops may be fairly restricted in 
terms of hardware upgrades compared 
to their desktop counterparts, but 
increasing the Ram is fortunately quite 
straightforward. Most laptops use 
Sodimm memory cards, which are 
smaller than traditional desktop 
Dimms. Small to mid- size laptops will 
normally have one memory card slot, 
while bigger models may have two. 

These slots are generally accessible 
from behind a removable panel on the 
underside of the laptop - indeed on 
many laptops, it'll be the only part of 
the case you can 'officially' open. The 
slots also work in the same way as 
desktops, with a clip on each side 
holding the Dimm card in place. 
Before opening the case and replacing 
memory, we'd recommend removing 
the battery and AC power cord. 

The prices quoted by laptop 
manufacturers for memory upgrades 
could have you fearing the worst, but 
it's quite affordable when sourced 
independently. As with desktop 
memory, we'd advise entering your 
model into online databases such as 
those of Crucial at www.crucial.com/uk. 
There we found that while our Sony 
Vaio TZ150N laptop only had one slot, 
meaning the existing 1GB Sodimm 
would have to be removed, we could 




fit a brand new 2GB Sodimm for just 
£30.99 inc Vat. Once the part arrived, 
we had it fitted in minutes. 

Results 

Following last month's Hardware 
column, we timed how long it took 
from the Windows login screen to the 
point at which disk activity fell and 
consistently stayed below five per cent. 
We also timed how long it took to 
launch Photoshop CS3 once, followed 
by a second time (giving Vista a chance 
to cache it), and finally the time taken 
to completely shut down. 

The Vaio TZ150N's shipping 
configuration with Vista and 1 GB of 
Ram hammered the hard disk for just 
over five minutes after logging in, 
during which time it was effectively 
unusable; it even took over three 
minutes before the gadget sidebar 
appeared on the desktop. 

Launching Photoshop CS3 for the 
first time took 25 seconds, but closing 
and relaunching saw it cached and 
ready for action just six seconds later. 
Shutting down took just under a 
minute and a half. 

As documented in last month's 
Hardware column, reducing the 26 
startup items to eight essentials saw 
the time to low disk activity fall to just 
over a minute and a half, and shutting 
down took 56 seconds. Application 
launch times weren't affected. 

With the Ram doubled to 2 GB our 
hopes were raised when the gadget 
sidebar appeared a relatively swift 20 



Installing extra 
Ram in your laptop 
will improve overall 
performance, but 
under Vista could 
result in slower 
startup times as the 
cache is populated 



seconds after logging in, but the disk 
kept chattering for almost eight 
minutes. That said, Photoshop 
subsequently launched in just six 
seconds the first time and five after 
that, while shutting down was quicker 
at 39 seconds. 

The longer startup time shouldn't 
be surprising as there's simply more 
memory for Vista's Superfetch to use 
as a cache. Once fully populated, the 
benefit of the extra Ram was apparent, 
with applications launching faster 
along with a feeling of quicker 
response. But it is important to note 
that doubling the Ram significantly 
slowed Vista's startup times. 

In an attempt to enjoy the best of 
both worlds, we disabled Superfetch, 
after which the startup time fell back 
down to a much more reasonable one 
minute and 39 seconds. The casualty 
was application launch times, with 
Photoshop taking 19 seconds the first 
time, although this fell to six seconds 
on subsequent launches. 

After installing XP we repeated the 
tests with 1GB and 2 GB of Ram and 
noted no difference in startup, 
application launch or shutdown 
speeds. But in terms of general use, 
especially with multiple applications 
running, the 2 GB configuration felt 
much more responsive. 

Thanks for the memory 

Increasing Ram is a well-known 
solution for improving performance, 
but Vista's Superfetch technology will 
simply take longer to fill it - and with 
slow laptop hard disks, that can result 
in a noticeably longer delay before the 
system becomes responsive. 

That said, there are benefits to 
upgrading the Ram in a laptop and it's 
possible to find a balance between 
startup and application performance. 
Just don't assume you'll get them with 
the default Vista configuration. PCW 



140 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



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HANDS ON > WINDOWS 




Tim Nott is a full-time freelance 


-^ Comments welcome on the 


journalist. When he's not writing about 


Windows column. 


Windows and word processing, he tackles 


Email windows@pcw.co.uk 


many other diverse subjects. He currently 


Please do not send unsolicited 


lives in France with his wife and family. 


file attachments. 



This appearing act 

The mystery of a new Windows tab solved and how to find files in XP 



Being a frequent user of the XP 
System Configuration Utility 
(Msconfig.exe), I was rather 
surprised to see that it had 
suddenly sprouted another tab, 
entitled Tools, just like the Vista 
version (see screen 1). This provides 
shortcuts to all sorts of commands that 
sometimes take a lot of rummaging 
through the Start Menu or obscure 
buttons in remote dialogues. Among 
those on offer are the System 
Information tool, the Event Viewer, 
and Network Diagnostics. Other items 
here, such as System Properties and 
the Command Prompt, are more 
accessible, but it's useful to have them 
all in one place. It appears this came 
with XP Service Pack 3, but it is 
available for download separately. It 
doesn't appear to be available via 
Windows Update, but you can 
download it from http://support. 
microsoft.com/kb/906569. The same page 
also shows you how to customise the 
list of tools, should you feel brave 
enough to dabble in some XML code. 
If you fancy a third-party toolbox, 
try XPSyspad (see screen 2). This 
provides access to administrative and 
system tools. Control Panel items and 
special folders. It will recover Windows 
and Office product keys, and there's 
even a process viewer. You'll find it at 
www.xtort.net/xtort-software. Despite the 
rather alarming domain name, we 
couldn't find any trace of malware. 

While on the subject of Msconfig, 
one irritation is that the window is not 
resizable. This is especially irksome if 
you are trying to see the command 
path or Registry location of an item in 
the Startup tab. Even if you widen a 
column by dragging the division 
between the column headers to the 
full width of the window, it often still 
isn't wide enough. Purely by accident, 
however, I discovered that if you keep 
dragging the divider right out of the 



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window, the column continues to 
widen past the available space. So, by 
judicious use of the horizontal scroll 
bar, you can see the entries in their 
entirety. This also works in other 
fixed- size windows in XP and Vista, 
such as the Defrag report. 

A good hiding 

There's a cunning way of hiding files 
from others who might have access to 
your XP computer. You will need an 
NTFS partition, a file to act as a hiding 
place, a file to hide and a command 
prompt window. Assume the partition 



Top: A new tab 
for MSConfig 

Bottom: All 
the tools in one 
big box 



is C: and create a new folder therein 
named 'Hideaway'. Copy to, or create 
a text file in Hideaway with a sentence 
or two in it. Let's call this justtext.txt. 
Copy the file you want to hide into 
Hideaway. This can be any file, but for 
this experiment we'll use the Windows 
Solitaire game at 
C:\Windows\System32\Sol.exe. 

Now open a command prompt. 
Assuming this starts somewhere on 
the C : drive - it should default to your 
profile folder - type 'CD\', followed by 
Enter, then 'CD Hideaway'. You 
should now be 'in' the new folder and 
see C:\Hideaway> as the command 
prompt. Now type the following line, 
then press the Enter key, making sure 
you get the spaces, punctuation and 
symbols exactly as shown: 
type sol.exe > 
j usttext . txt : sol . exe 

(Key: i^ code string continues) 

Nothing will appear to happen. 
There will be no message in the 
command window - just a new 
prompt and the contents of the folder 
will look the same - a text file of the 
original size and the majestic 56KB of 
sol.exe. Only the modified date of the 
text file will have changed, and 
opening it will merely show the 
original text content. Just to show 
there's nothing up your sleeve, you 
can delete the copy of sol.exe. 

Now, at the same command 
prompt, type the following, again 
paying attention to the spaces and 
punctuation, and following it with the 
Enter key. It's an oddity of the Start 
command that it needs the entire path 
to the file: 

start c:\hideaway\i^ 
j usttext . txt : sol . exe 

Lo and behold, a game of Solitaire 
will commence. You can see the whole 
process in screen 3. You can hide any 
file type in any other file this way. So 
how does it work? 



142 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON WINDOWS Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/windows 



WINDOWS < HANDS ON 



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This message 
is triggered by 
an ADS 



NTFS supports Alternative Data 
Streams (ADS). In other words, one 
file can be associated with more than 
one set of data, which is the trick 
we've just performed. If you read the 
NTFS entry in Wikipedia youTl find 
more than you ever wanted to know. 
Fat32 doesn't support ADS, so if you 
try to copy a streamed file to, say, a 
Fat32 USB key, you may get a message 
telling you this, as well as revealing 
the name of the hidden file. Emailing 
a file as an attachment also strips out 
ADS, as does sending the file to a 
compressed (ZIP) folder. 

Windows does use ADS for various 
obscure tricks of its own: some files 
have a Zone Identifier added in this 
way when you download them. It's 
this that triggers the security warning 
when you open some downloaded 
files (see screen 4). If you clear the 
'Always ask...' box, or click the 
Unblock button in the file's property 
sheet, the ADS - and the warning - 
will be removed. Another example is 
'favicons' - the icons you see next to 
sites in your IE Favourites folder are 
hidden in the Internet Shortcut files. 
This technique could be used to hide 
malware and ADS Spy, a utility to scan 
your drives, can be found at 
http://tinyurl.com/jp5m4. 

Quick new folder 

If you're a fan of the Quick Launch 
toolbar, here's a rather neat way to 
save yourself all of two clicks 
whenever you want to create a new 
folder. Right- click in the Quick Launch 
toolbar and select Open. This will 
show the Quick Launch folder buried 
deep within your profile. To create a 
new folder, right- click. New, Folder. 
You can leave the default name or 
choose another name. Close the Quick 
Launch folder and you'll see a new 
Folder icon on the Quick Launch 
toolbar. If you Control & Drag this to 



Alternative Data any open folder (or the desktop) you'll 

Streams via the get a new folder in the target. This 

command prompt works with any Windows version that 

has a Quick Launch toolbar. 

Although NTFS is far superior than 
Fat in terms of reliability, it does have 
one peculiar foible. Every time you 
access a file or right- click and view its 
properties, even if you don't change or 
save it, this event is recorded as the 
'last access time'. This takes a little 
time and isn't a great benefit to most 
users, unless they have backup 
programs that use the Remote Storage 
Service. You can turn this off in Vista 
and XP Pro by opening a command 
prompt and typing: 
FSUTIL behavior set i^ 
disablelastaccess 1 
Replacing 1 with turns it back on and: 
FSUTIL behavior query 
disablelastaccess 
reports the current state. 

Skip the welcome screen 

If you have more than one user 
account in XP but always want to log 
on to a default account rather than use 
the welcome or log-in screen, you can 
do this with TweakUI - the free but 
Dive straight into unsupported Microsoft tool for XP 

your user account (see screen 5). Vista has a hidden way 



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of achieving the same end. In the 
Start, Run box, type NETPLWIZ. This 
opens the Advanced User Account 
dialogue. First select the user you want 
logged on automatically, then clear the 
'Users must enter a password...' box. 
Click the Apply Button, then Enter 
and confirm the password for the 
chosen user. This doesn't affect logging 
off or fast user switching in either 
operating system. 

Gadget of the month 

It has been a while since we had a bit 
of culture in this column, so here's a 
Vista Sidebar gadget that brings you a 
masterpiece from the Rijksmuseum. 
Click on the painting to enlarge it, 
then 'turn it over' to read about the 
work and the artist. You'll find it at 
www.rijksmuseum.nl/widget. 

If you're using XP, you can also 
get a daily dose of Dutch mastery, as 
there's a Yahoo Widget available. 
You'll first need to download the 
Yahoo Widget Engine from 
http://widgets.yahoo.com/download. Pay 
attention when you install this, as you 
need to clear two checkboxes if you 
don't want Yahoo as your home page 
and default search engine. Having 
installed this, you'll have a sidebar 
similar to the Google one mentioned 
in April's column, except that it is not 
transparent and has some annoying 
Yahooish features, such as taking over 
your desktop in 'Heads Up' view. 

Pssst! 

In April's column, I said that "deleting 
mail and emptying Deleted Items in 
Outlook 2007 actually increased the 
size of the message store (.dbx) file". 
That should be .pst, not .dbx, which is 
the Outlook Express format. To 
perform a manual compress, go to File, 
Data File Management..., select 
'Personal Folders', click 'Settings', then 
'Compact Now'. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



143 



HANDS ON > LINUX/UNIX 



r 




Barry Shilliday has worked with 

computers for almost two decades. By day, 
he is a Linux and Unix consultant but in his 
free time he prefers to travel the world - and 
snap it with his camera. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Linux/Unix column. 

Email linux@pcw.co.uk 
Please do not send unsolicited 
file attachments. 



The changing face of Fedora 

Ubuntu may be the most popular desktop distribution, but Fedora support is strong 



Regular readers will know that 
Ubuntu Linux is often the 
focus of this column. The 
distribution has come to 
dominate mainstream Linux use 
outside corporate server rooms. 

Indeed, a check on Google will 
show more results for searches on 
Ubuntu than any other Linux 
distribution. Ubuntu is, in fact, one of 
the youngest distributions; the first 
version (Warty Warthog) was released 
in October 2004. 

The reason it has managed to gain 
such a foothold in just a few years is 
because, from the outset, it aimed at 
providing a stable, polished desktop 
environment, with a carefully chosen 
selection of installed applications. 

Before Ubuntu, an installation of 
Linux would usually involve having to 
select the applications you wanted, 
and you might well have ended up 
with several different ones for the 
same kind of task, such as four or five 
text editors. 

While Ubuntu is almost certainly 
the most popular desktop distribution, 
there are, of course, others that are 
also popular. Distributions can loosely 
be divided into two categories: 
commercial and non-commercial. The 
former includes Red Hat Enterprise 
Linux, Suse Linux Enterprise, 
Mandriva Linux and Xandros Linux. 
The latter includes Ubuntu Linux, 
Debian, Fedora, Opensuse and others. 

A few years ago, it seemed as if a 
new distribution was being released 
every week. Thankfully, while there 
are still a huge number of minor 
distributions, the list of the major 
ones is a lot smaller, and Linux 
development has benefited from this. 

A short history of hats 

Long before Ubuntu was around. Red 
Hat Linux was almost synonymous 
with Linux itself. It was one of the first 



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distributions to exist, back when an 
installation meant writing raw floppy 
disk images in MS -Dos to create 
bootable disks. 

In 2003 Red Hat was growing 
substantially in the corporate server 
market and the company decided to 
end support for the venerable and 
popular consumer-orientated Red Hat 
Linux. In its place came Fedora Core, 
which was intended to be a 
community -driven project. 

The Core repository gave a basic 
functional desktop, while the Fedora 
Extras repository provided many 
unofficial (but essential) extras. Fedora 
was largely controlled by Red Hat, and 
many users and developers felt it was 
just a public beta testing ground for 
future Red Hat Enterprise releases. 
This, together with the confusion 
over Core and Extras, led to little 
enthusiasm for the project and may 
have contributed to Ubuntu's success. 

In May 2007, Fedora 7 was 
released. Core was dropped from the 



The Nodoka 
desktop theme 
contrasts with 
Ubuntu's dark 
browns 



name, as the two repositories were 
merged. Support also moved to the 
Fedora Project, which has meant more 
active development from the open- 
source community. 

With Fedora 7 also came 'spins', a 
method of creating custom builds of 
Fedora from the software available in 
the repositories. For example, two 
spins were created for a KDE and 
Gnome live CD, and another spin for a 
DVD installation of Gnome, with a 
large selection of applications. These 
spin releases compare well with 
Ubuntu's desktop variations - one CD 
for a Gnome desktop, and two others 
forKDEandXFCE. 

In November came the release of 
Fedora 8. Fedora has often stayed 
ahead by incorporating some of the 
latest developments in open-source 
software. This remained true with 
Fedora 8, which introduced Pulse 
Audio (http://pulseaudio.org), an 
advanced sound server that offers lots 
of control over how sound is produced. 

The desktops available are the latest 
versions of Gnome (2.20), KDE (3.5) 
and XFCE (4.4), together with Compiz 
Fusion, the impressive compositing 
manager for 3D desktop effects. 
Network Manager (also found in 
Ubuntu) was added to provide better 
support for wireless networks and 
switching between networks, and an 
easy-to-use graphical firewall admin 
tool is offered for those who want it. 

The package management system's 
performance was markedly improved, 
making it somewhat comparable to 
Debian and Ubuntu's equivalent, apt. 
Also included is Policy Kit, an 
authentication system that allows 
selected operations of an application to 
gain super-user (administrator) access, 
meaning better security and better 
control over what applications can do. 

Both Policy Kit and Pulse Audio are 
making their debut in Ubuntu 8.04 



144 



www.pcw.co.ul< June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON LINUX/UNIX Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/linux_and_unix 



LINUX/UNIX < HANDS ON 



(Hardy Heron), approximately one 
release behind Fedora. 

Fedora is a completely free 
distribution and contains only free 
software not affected by copyright 
restrictions or patents. In other words, 
on a plain install, it will play next to 
none of the popular media file 
formats. Audio CDs, Ogg Vorbis and 
WAV files are fine, but MP3, AAC and 
MPEG4 files or video DVDs will not 
play. One solution to this is Codeina, a 
small application that runs when you 
try to play an unsupported format. 
This can download and install a plug- 
in that will enable applications such as 
Totem to play back the file. A free MP3 
plug-in is available for download, but 
there is a charge for other formats. 

Few people will want to pursue this 
option, especially as it is completely 
unnecessary. Ubuntu gets around the 
patent problem by informing the user 
via a pop-up window that in some 
countries (the US), patent restrictions 
may be in place, but will still allow you 
to download and install the free 
software. In Fedora there is no such 
official alternative, which discourages 
many people from using Fedora as 
their main desktop. Fortunately, there 
is an unofficial workaround - the 
Livna repository (see box above). 

Installation 

Fedora will install onto any modern PC 
desktop or laptop. The recommended 
specifications for a smooth-running full 
desktop are typical for a Linux 
distribution: around 512MB of Ram 
and a I GHz processor. As mentioned 
above. Fedora is released now as a set 
of official spins, either by direct 
download or via a torrent. 

The standard desktop spin is with 
Gnome, and is available in Intel/AMD 
32-bit (Pentium II or later), 64-bit or 
Power PC versions. An equivalent 
KDE-based release is available. For 
older systems, a standard installation 
spin for 386 (or better) processors, as 
well as the 64-bit and Power PC 
versions, is also available. 

For most people, the 1686 (32 -bit) 
Fedora Desktop Live Media release is 
recommended. Download links are at 
littp://f edora project.org/get-fedora.litml. 

The installation process has 
changed little from earlier releases. As 
with Ubuntu, there are few choices to 
make and so little opportunity to do 
anything wrong. The partition editor 
lets you set up your hard drive for 
installation, and to dual-boot with 
Windows if required. Fedora will set 



Livna fills some gaps 

Fedora's policy of only having free, open-source software 
means many useful packages that have restrictions in 
copyright or patents are not available. 

The Livna repository provides a set of packages to fill 
this gap, though it should be emphasised that these are 
unofficial and not supported by Fedora in any way. 
However, the repository is used by most Fedora users, 
and is regularly updated with fixes and updates. 

To make the repository available in Fedora 8, head to 
http://rpm.livna.org and download the Fedora 8 repository 
RPM. Install the RPM file by clicking on its icon. 



up logical volumes if left to organise 
your drive itself, something very 
flexible but confusing to people who 
want to modify the layout later. 

Fedora 8 introduced new artwork, 
known as Nodoka. A blue and fairly 
pale professional theme, it contrasts 
with Ubuntu's infamous (and often 
unpopular) dark browns (see screen 1). 
Fedora also includes a nice, if 

"Distributions can loosely be 
divided into two categories: 
commercial and non-commercial' 



somewhat gimmicky, touch in that the 
desktop wallpaper will switch to slight 
variations in colour, depending on the 
time of day. 

A set of useful applications is 
installed by default, including Abi 
Word, Mozilla Firefox (of course), and 
Evolution. Surprisingly, Open Office is 
not contained on the single-CD spin, 



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Adding extra 
software from the 
repositories is very 
straightforward 




but, just as with Ubuntu, an 
Add/Remove applications tool is 
provided, where you can install 
additional software from the repository 
in just a couple of clicks (see screen 2). 

Also similar to Ubuntu, a software 
update tool runs in the background 
and notifies you of any new releases. 
Fedora tends to track updates to the 
Gnome desktop more than Ubuntu, so 
updates are generally more frequent. 

Hardware support is generally 
good. Work has been done to make 
everything 'just work' as much as 
possible: display resolutions should be 
detected automatically; USB sticks will 
pop up a Nautilus window; and so on. 
Intel drivers are included, so there will 
be no problem getting wireless access if 
you use an Intel-based laptop. 

Ubuntu usually comes out slightly 
ahead with ease of use for hardware, 
though Fedora has begun to catch up. 

Post installation 

The first thing to do after installation, 
if you want reasonable multimedia 
support, is to set up the Livna 
repository. Since Fedora uses a similar 
way of organising packages to Debian 
and Ubuntu, the packages from Livna 
are available immediately through the 
standard utilities. Packages include 
VLC, Xine, mplayer, gstreamer 
restricted plug-ins, libdvdcss (for 
playing back video DVDs) and binary 
Nvidia and ATI graphics drivers. 
Adobe's Flash plug-in is not 
available from Livna, but is easily 
installed by going to Adobe's website 
and downloading and installing the 
RPM file directly. PCW 



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June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



145 



HANDS ON > DIGITAL IMAGING 




Ken McMahon is a freelance 


-^ Comments welcome on the 


journalist and graphic designer. His 


Digital imaging & video column. 


involvement with digital cameras began 


Email digitalimaging@pcw.co.uk 


with a Commodore 64. He graduated to 


Please do not send unsolicited 


Macs and now works mostly with PCs. 


file attachments. 



Selling an image 

How to tal<e studio-quality photos to help sell items on Ebay 



I've just put my old wireless router 
on Ebay. It's less than a year old, 
but when I upgraded my BT 
broadband package they gave me a 
new one, so I figured I'd sell the old 
one while it was still worth something. 

Don't worry, you haven't taken a 
wrong turning and lost yourself in the 
networking section. It's just that every 
time I sell something on Ebay, I need 
to take a picture of it. And to 
differentiate my router from all the 
others and make my offering more 
professional-looking, desirable and 
saleable, I like it to be well 
photographed and on a nice clean 
white backdrop. 

It's not just Ebay; photography is 
more and more a part of everything 
we do these days. And whether you're 
auctioning old kit on Ebay, producing 
images for your business website or 
taking photos of yourself for a passport 
or driving licence application, you 
want them to look as good as they 
possibly can. 

I'm going to show you how to 
take studio -quality product shots 
without a studio. There are two 
aspects to this - what you can do 
when shooting (you'd be surprised 
how far a sheet of white paper and 
a window can get you) and what 
you can do after the event using a 
photo-editing application. 

Shooting small objects 

'Product shots' could really mean 
anything, but here I'll confine it to 
small objects such as my wireless 
router. The only thing the viewer is 
interested in is the subject itself, so the 
aim is to show it as clearly as possible 
without any distractions. 

Here's where your sheet of white 
paper comes in. I find you can fit most 
things on a sheet of A3 paper. If you 
don't have A3, use two overlapping 
sheets of A4; and don't worry about 




the join, we'll deal with easy removal 
of backgrounds a little later. If you 
don't have white, any bright colour 
will do and some items, such as 
jewellery, look better on black. 

Lighting 

The next thing to consider is lighting. 
I very rarely use a flash because a 
single camera-mounted flash unit 
produces very harsh directional 
lighting with hard shadows. If you 
have to use a flash, a plastic diffuser or 
a piece of tracing paper over the front 
can soften the lighting a little - or, if 
the head angle can be adjusted, or you 
can remove it from the camera, 
bounce it off the ceiling or a wall. 

I find that ordinary daylight 
provides much better results though. 



Most small items, 
such as the 
contents of your 
pockets, can be 
scanned rather 
than photographed 



So prop your object on its paper close 
to a large window, or venture 
outdoors. Bright, cloudy weather is 
better than full-on sunshine. If it's too 
bright use a net curtain or sheet as a 
diffuser (see 'Light tents' in the kit 
boxout on the opposite page). If one 
side of your object is in shadow, 
another piece of white paper or card 
can be positioned opposite the window 
to reflect light back. 

Use a tripod 

There can be a lot of fiddling about, 
getting the subject in the right place at 
the right angle and adjusting 
reflectors. Placing the camera on a 
tripod will make things a lot easier. 
Another thing that can be useful is 
Plasticine or Blu-Tack - use it to prop 
objects at an angle to make for more 
dynamic shots and to show more of 
an object to the camera. 

Or a scanner 

With some smaller objects you can 
save yourself the effort of worrying 
about lighting, backgrounds, angles 
and the rest by scanning them. 

Books are an obvious candidate for 
scanning, but jewellery, coins and 
medals, mobiles, handhelds and other 
small gadgets all scan well. As long as 
the object to be scanned is no bigger 
than the scanner and no deeper than 
an inch, you should get good results. 
A scanner has surprisingly good depth 
of field and even detail that's a few 
millimetres above the glass will be in 
reasonably sharp focus. 

A scanner already has a plain white 
backdrop, though for some things, in 
particular light and reflective objects, 
you might want to place a sheet of 
black paper behind the object. 

Computer screens 

If you want to sell your notebook PC 
on Ebay, you'll need at least one good 



146 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON DIGITAL IMAGING Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/digital_imaging 



DIGITAL IMAGING < HANDS ON 



^HMIIL#«*A^»hdtiUi M* 



-Qani 




IZD 




photo to show exactly what bidders 
are getting and what kind of condition 
it's in. LCD screens don't reproduce all 
that well in photos, so you have two 
options - either show your notebook 
with the screen switched off, which 
looks dull, or paste in a screengrab. 
If you do this you should mention that 
the screen image is simulated. You 
could always include a smaller photo 
showing the actual screen to prove 
your machine is in working order. 

If it's not possible to take a 
screengrab, for example with 
handheld devices, try and arrange the 
lighting so that it doesn't fall directly 
on the screen and attempt to match 
ambient light levels to the screen 
brightness so that your exposure 
setting will capture both the screen 
detail and the device. If that's not 
possible make two exposures - one for 
the screen and one for the device - 
and cut and paste. 

Ethical issues 

Manipulating photos to improve the 
way they look raises some ethical and 
legal issues that you should be aware 
of. If you're simply removing 
distracting background detail, or 
making tonal adjustments to improve 
image detail, that's not a problem. 
However, if you use retouching 
tools to, for example, remove scratches 
and other damage from an item, the 
buyer could legitimately complain that 
you misrepresented their condition. 
By restricting your photo 
manipulation to image enhancement 
and mentioning any retouching that 
could be misinterpreted, you can avoid 
such problems. 

Digital manipulation 

One of the simplest ways to improve 
a product shot is to cut out the 
background. Make it easy for yourself 
by photographing the object on the 



Add a drop shadow 
to a cut-out image 
to give it depth 



Replace a screen in 
Corel Paint Shop 
Pro Photo X2 



Kit for taking it to the next level 


Ring flash 


Light tents 


As we've seen, you can take 


If you don't have a studio with big 


perfectly good product shots with 


dii^use artificial lighting, a light tent 


the most basic equipment. But if you 


provides an inexpensive alternative 


need a lot of product shots, for 


that can be used with either natural 


example for a catalogue, then there 


daylight or artificial light. 


are some bits of photo gear that can 


Light tents are really little more 


make life a lot easier. 


than a sheet - they let the light pass 


A ring flash is a special flash unit 


through, but dii^use it to provide 


designed for macro photography. 


soft shadowless lighting. 


The flash element surrounds the lens 


Some light tents form a cube 


like a ring, hence the name. 


when assembled so that you can 


The light source hits the subject 


easily place the product inside. Light 


straight on, so shadows are virtually 


tents aren't all that expensive and if 


eliminated, though you do get a 


you do a lot of product photography 


very light shadow-halo effect 


it'll soon pay for itself. 


around the subject. Short Images 


If you can't justify the cost it's 


makes a ring flash adapter to fit 


not dii^icult to make your own and 


Canon Speedlight 580EX and Nikon 


there are lots of tutorials on the web 


SB-800 flashes - see www.flaghead. 


-just search for 'DIY light tent' in 


co.uk/pages/ringflash-range.html. 


your preferred search engine. 



plainest background you can find. It 
doesn't have to be white or flawless - 
as long as it's relatively plain it will 
make the job of selecting it with a 
magic wand or colour selection tool 
much easier. 

The key to getting the job done 
quickly is to select the background, 
rather than the object. Unless the 
background is very plain, set your 
magic wand or other selection tool to 
a lowish tolerance and Shift-click to 
select the background in clumps. 
While it can be satisfying, there are no 
prizes for getting it all in one go. If 
your editing application has a colour 
selection tool this might yield better 
results than a magic wand tool. 

With the background removed, 
objects can look a bit stark on plain 
white. To add a natural-looking drop 
shadow duplicate the cut-out object 
layer and use a levels adjustment to 
make it black - drag the slider on the 




left side of the histogram as far to 
the right as necessary. Apply a 
Gaussian blur filter to the layer to 
soften the edges. The Radius amount 
will depend on the image size, but for 
a high-resolution image somewhere 
between 20 and 40 should work well. 
If your shadow layer is in front of 
the object you will, of course, need to 
drag it behind and offset it a short 
distance - try to position the shadow 
where it would fall naturally, given 
the lighting conditions (see screen 1). 
Finally, reduce the layer opacity to 
around 30 or 40 per cent to make the 
shadow grey. For added realism add a 
small amount of noise. 

Replacing screens 

The first step to producing a good 
screen image on a monitor or 
notebook photo is to do a screengrab. 
Press the Prt Scr button on your 
keyboard, or use a screen capture 
utility such as the free Irfanview 
(www.irfanview.com). 

Launch your photo-editing 
application - I'll describe how to do it 
in Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, but any 
program with a distort or perspective 
tool will do. Paste the screengrab into 
a new layer above the original image 
and select the Pick tool. 

Grab a corner handle and, holding 
down the Shift key, drag it to one 
corner of the screen. Shift-drag the 
remaining three corner handles to the 
other three corners of the screen and 
you're done (see screen 2). PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



147 



HANDS ON > WORD PROCESSING 




Tim Nott is a full-time freelance 
journalist. When he's not writing about 
Windows and word processing, he tackles 
many other diverse subjects. He currently 
lives in France with his wife and family. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Word processing column. 

Email wp@pcw.co.uk 

Please do not send unsolicited 

file attachments. 



Building with Word 2003 

Remove private information and add some Word 2007 tricks to the 2003 version 



In the March column we looked at 
Autotext in Word 2003 and earlier, 
and in April we covered Word 
2007's Building Blocks. Last month 
we looked at some of the Content 
Controls and 'Click Here' blocks you 
can use in Word 2007. This month 
we're going back to the less glamorous 
world of 2003 to see how you can use 
similar automation features. 

As with many of Word 2007's new 
features, there's a lot of emphasis on 
presentation. Whereas the Galleries 
provide a quick way of adding all kinds 
of content, many of the features are 
there in earlier versions. Starting with 
the 'Click Here' boxes, there's a quick 
way of doing this. First, you need to 
create a macro. Go to Tools, Macro, 
Macros, type in a name (let's say, 
'Clickhere') and click the Create 
button. The VBA editing window will 
appear with the head and tail of 'Sub 
Clickhere 0' plus a few lines of 
comment. This is all you need, so close 
the VBA editor. Now, in the document, 
choose Insert, Field, MacroButton and 
select your Clickhere macro from the 
list (see screen 1). In the 'Display text' 
box above the macro list, type in the 
prompt; eg, 'Type your title here'. 

OK to insert the field, then format 
it as you want, making sure you have 
the field results rather than code 
visible - right- click to toggle between 
the two. Save this in a template; you'll 
find that all new documents based on 
the template will display the prompt. 
One click will select the entire prompt, 
and typing the real title will replace it. 

For a more sophisticated and 
versatile method of adding 'ready-to- 
go' content to a template, you can use 
forms. Forms and their controls aren't 
really as scary as they sound. It's a bad 
choice of word - most of us associate 
forms with tax returns. So brace 
yourself, create a new template and 
turn on the Forms toolbar. 



Field 



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Please choose a field 

Categories; 

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Fjeld names r 

LastSavedBy 

Link 

Listi^Jurm 

MacroButton:^ 

MergeFleld 

MergeRec 

MergeSeq 

Next 

Nextif 
"NoteRef 

NumCliars 

NumPages 
■ NumWords 

Page 

PageRef 







Field properties 
Display tExt: 



[Type your title here| 



Macro name: 

ChangeKana 
CharLeft 
, CharLeftExtend 
i CharRight 
CharRightExtend 
GharScale 
CheckBoxFormField 
ClearFormatting 
ClearFormField 
dickhere 
ClosePane 






Starting with the simplest, the left- 
most button inserts a Text form field. 
This defaults to a four- character blank 
space - it helps if you turn on shading 
(eighth button from left). Right-click 
on this and select Properties, or select 
the field and press the Options button 
(fourth from the left in the Forms 
toolbar) and you'll get the dialogue 
shown in screen 2. The default is 
Regular Text and you can type the 
placeholder text in the box beside this. 

Below this you can set a limit for 
the length and specify the case - 
upper, lower, first capital or title case. 
Below that you can specify macros to 
run when the user enters or exits the 
control - we'll return to this another 
time. Make sure, however, that the 
'Fill-in enabled' box is checked. 

Numeric characters 

As well as regular text, you can also 
restrict input to numbers, dates or 
calculations. For the first of these any 
non-numeric characters will be 
discarded when leaving the field; once 
again, you can impose a maximum 
(but unfortunately no minimum or 



A quick-and-dirty 
'Click Here' block 



Form control 
options are not 
nearly as daunting 
as you might think 



exact) length. With dates, you don't, 
alas, get a 2007-style calendar gadget, 
but you can enforce a date format. 

The next item on the toolbar is a 
check box, which is self-explanatory, 
but again can be wrapped up with 
macros to achieve further automation. 

There may be times when you 
want to restrict user input to a list of 
items, rather than let them enter free 
text. For example, if you have a field 
for 'Sex:' you'll generally want people 
to enter 'male' or 'female', but there's 
always the office wag who will want to 
put 'yes please'. A good way to avoid 
this is with a dropdown list. Click on 
the third button, then the Options 
button, and you'll be able to add items 
to the list (see screen 3). 

If you've got this far, you will have 
noticed that nothing works. You need 
to protect the form so click the padlock 
button. This locks the form fields, and 
they will function as they would for 
the user (see screen 4). You'll need to 
click again to return to editing mode. 

Later versions of Word have a 
useful Reset button to return 
everything to the default values after 



Text Form Field Options 



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14B www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON WORD PROCESSING Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/word_processing 



WORD PROCESSING < HANDS ON 



Drop- Down Form Field Options 



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s 

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experimentation. You can also add 
Help text to any item - either in the 
Status bar or in its own independent 
FI pop-up. 

When you've got your template 
perfected, you need to protect it 
permanently so that users can't 
change the controls. First, insert a 
section break after your last form field. 
Next, go to Tools, Protect Document, 
and, in the Task Pane that appears, 
select Tilling in Forms' in the 'Editing 
Restrictions' section, then click the 
'Select Sections' link below. Select just 
the first section, otherwise users won't 
be able to add any new content to the 
document. Having done this, click the 
'Start Enforcing Protection' button. 
This will produce a password request. 
Finally, save the template. The 
restrictions you applied to the 
template will be applied to any new 
document based upon it. 

Paranoia comer 

When you installed Word, you would 
have been prompted for your name, 
initials and mailing address. This 
information, which in Word 2003 and 
earlier is found under Tools, Options, 
User Information, can appear in the 
Document Properties, so third 
parties can tell, for example, the 
author of any document. This may or 
may not be desirable, but it's just the 
tip of the iceberg of invisible metadata 
that can be included in a file, such as 
hidden text, comments, the template 
name, the computer or server name 
and more. And if you have fast saves 
enabled, then even text you thought 
you had deleted may be available to 
the curious with a text or hex editor. 

Word 2007 doesn't offer Fast Saves 
and has a tool to deal with the rest. Go 



Dropdown lists 
limit choice 



2007 weeds out 

compromising 

metadata 



to the Office menu. Prepare, Inspect 
Document. This will search for various 
metadata elements, such as comments, 
personal info and hidden text, and 
optionally remove them (see screen 5). 
In Word 2003, you can go to Tools, 
Options, Save and check the 'Remove 
personal information...' box. But this 
doesn't do any more than it says - 
comments and hidden text will still be 
present, as will any custom properties 
that derive from the template. If you 
just want to remain anonymous by 
default, you can remove your name 
from User Information, but that 
doesn't do any other cleansing. 

Urge to purge 

Here's a five-point plan for purging 
Word 2003 and earlier of potentially 
compromising data. 

• Versions - Word 2003 and earlier 
allow you to combine multiple 
versions of a document in the same 
file. To get rid of previous versions, go 
to File, Versions and delete these. 
Make sure the 'Automatically save a 
version...' box is unchecked. 

• Fast saves - just say no. We 



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explained last month how these may 
leave deleted text in a file. Turn this off 
from Tools, Options, Save. 

• Hidden text - first you need to make 
all hidden text visible. Go to Tools, 
Options, View and check the Hidden 
Text box in the 'Non-printing 
Characters' or 'Formatting Marks' 
section. Go to the beginning of the 
document, then Edit, Replace. Click 
the More button, then Format, then 
Font. Tick Hidden in Effects, then 

OK back to the Find dialogue. You 
don't need to type anything into the 
'Find What' or 'Replace With' boxes, 
just click Find Next, then Replace to 
delete it. If you are sure you don't 
want to recover hidden text, then 
Replace All. 

• Document properties - go to File, 
Properties. Turn to the Summary tab, 
then highlight and delete the contents 
of any fields you don't want available. 
Repeat the process for the Custom tab. 

• Revision marks and comments - go 
to View, Toolbars, Reviewing. In the 
Reviewing toolbar, make sure the 
Track Changes button is off. Now use 
the Next and Previous buttons to go to 
each previously tracked change, then 
either Accept or Reject it. 

Reader's tip 

In my reply to Geoff Fisher in April's 
Question Time I stated that you can't 
have a 'Close' button on a single 
document in Word 2007 without 
turning off 'Show all windows in the 
Taskbar' from Word Options. "Oh yes 
you can," states Joe Wilson. Go to 
Word Options, Customise. In the 
'Choose commands from' box, select 
'Office Menu'. You'll be able to add the 
'Close' command to the Quick Access 
Toolbar. Good thinking, Joe. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 149 



HANDS ON > SPREADSHEETS 



f^ 



\ T-_- 



Stephen Wells is a freelance 


-^ Comments welcome on the 


journalist and a regular contributor to 


Spreadsheets column. 


computer magazines. He's been writing 


Email spreadsheets@pcw.co.uk 


PCW's Spreadsheets column for over 


Please do not send unsolicited 


10 years. 


file attachments. 



What's your status? 

The Status Bar along the bottom of the Excel screen has got better 



The whole idea of the Status 
Bar at the bottom of the Excel 
screen has always been to 
keep you informed of where 
you are. To display it, choose Status 
Bar on the View menu. At the left it 
usually says Ready. If you start 
entering anything in a cell it will say 
Enter. If you click in the Formula Bar, 
or click in a cell and press F2, it will 
read Edit. Beyond that, Excel 4 only 
gave you up to seven messages. They 
are still extant. 

There is ADD. If you highlight a 
range of cells and want to add other 
ranges or single cells to that range for 
calculation purposes you can press 
Shift & F8 and the ranges of cells can 
be added. To close ADD mode you 
press Shift & F8 again. To accomplish 
the same thing most people today 
would just press Ctrl and click on the 
cells to be added. 

EXT is a variation of this. Highlight 
a range, press F8, click on a cell away 
from the range and that cell will be 
added to the range. For example, if 
you click on cell B2 and press F8 you 
can then click on cell CIO and the 
range B2:C10 will be highlighted. Press 
F8 again to deselect it. Again this has 
fallen into disuse as most people 
would hold down Shift and click on 
cells B2 and CIO to do the same thing. 

NUM tells you if the Number Lock 
key is on. If it is, the keypad keys on 
the right-hand side of a normal 
keyboard produce numbers. Press the 
Number Lock key once and those keys 
control movement. In this alternate 
mode, press 8 and the cell focus goes 
up. Press 2 and it goes down. By 
default these days the Number Lock 
key is usually on and people use the 
arrow keys or the mouse for moving 
around the worksheet. 

FIX is very useful when you're 
entering money amounts in a hurry. 
To turn it on choose Tools, Options, 



Custeymlze Status Bar 

|V] Ceir IVTode 
Signatures 



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VJi Permissions 
I Caps Lock 
Num Lock 
Scroll Lock 



Ready 
Off 
Off 
Off 
Off 




E 



Fixed Decimal 
Overtype Mode 
End Mode 
Macro Recording 
Selection Made 



Qft| 

Off 
Off 



Not Recording 



_ 

I /| Page Number 
[VJ Average 
[7] Count 

Numerical Count 

Minimum 

Maximum 

Sum 



01 



View Shortcuts 
Zoom 
Zoom Slider 



100% 



Edit, Fixed Decimal. (In Excel 2007, 
Office, Excel Options, Advanced, 
Editing Options, Automatically insert 
a decimal point, OK) . If you enter 
12345 in a cell it will record and 
display 123.45. 

OVR board 

OVR substitutes new entries for old. 
Click on a cell and press F2 to edit in a 
cell, or click in the Formula Bar to edit 
the cell there, then press the Insert 
key. When you enter anything it will 
replace the existing entry rather than 
add to it. Normal activity is resumed 
when the next cell is chosen, unlike in 
Word where you have to press Insert 
again to stop overtyping. 



All the options that 
Excel 2007 offers in 
the Status Bar 



SCRL just indicates when the 
Scroll Lock key has been pressed. If 
you press an arrow key the focus is 
fixed to a cell while the screen scrolls. 
Press the Scroll Lock key again and 
normal service is resumed. The 
worksheet remains still and the 
focus moves to the next cell. 

CAPS simply indicates when 
the Caps Lock key is on. If you type 
smith when the Caps Lock key has 
been pressed Excel will record and 
display SMITH. 

Enhanced status 

The next major addition to the Status 
Bar was made with the introduction of 
Auto Calculate in Excel 2000. This 
gives you an instant mini calculator. 
Highlight a range of numbers, or a 
range plus other cells, and by default 
the total of them will appear in the 
Status Bar. If you right-click on the 
Status Bar, you can change Sum to 
Average, Count, Count Numbers, 
Maximum, Minimum or None. 
Count will count the number of all the 
cells with values. Count Numbers 
ignores cells with text. 

In Excel 2007, Microsoft has 
really gone to town with the Status 
Bar. You can now right -click on it 
and have a choice of 22 items (see 
screen 1 ) . If an item is checked on 
the left-hand side of the dialogue box 
it means it will be displayed in the 
Status Bar. On the right-hand side the 
box indicates whether the item is 
active or not. For instance, if the Caps 
Lock is on it will say On in this 
dialogue box. If it isn't it will say Off 
for this item. 

All the enigmatic abbreviations 
are gone. The Status Bar now spells 
them out. EXT is replaced with 
Selection Mode or Extend Selection. 
FIX is Fixed Decimal. OVR becomes 
Overtype. SCRL is now Scroll Lock. 
CAPS is Caps Lock. It's much clearer. 



150 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON SPREADSHEETS Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/spreadsheets 



SPREADSHEETS < HANDS ON 



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The Zoom box in 
Excel lets you 
enlarge a range 



Office Sharepoint 
Server lets you 
share Excel 
workbooks online 



Auto Calculate has been 
upgraded, too. If you 
highlight a range of values. 
Excel 2007 can give you 
the Sum, Average and 
Count all side by side on 
the Status Bar. 

Beyond the seven items 
previously detailed, and six 
of the seven items in Auto 
Calculate (the item None 
not being needed now) 
there are a number of new 
items. If you don't want the left-hand 
messages Read, Edit or Enter to 
appear, you can remove the check 
mark beside Cell Mode. End Mode 
indicates if you have pressed a 
keyboard shortcut starting with the 
End key. End & Up Arrow, for 
instance, takes you to the top of the 
current column. 



Evolution of Record Macro 

In earlier versions. Record Macro is a 
tool you can add to the Standard 
toolbar to start recording a macro. 
It shows a large round dot initially. 
Click on it to start recording 
keystrokes and the button becomes 
a square to indicate it is now the 
Stop Recording button. In Excel 
2007, Macro Recording is now an 
option on the Status Bar. 

Selection Mode is the new name 
for ADD and works the same way. It 
still adds cells to a range if you press 
Shift & F8. 

Page Number shows the current 
page number and the total number 
of pages of a multipage worksheet, 
though it only appears in Page Layout 
and Page Break views. Click on 
where it says '100%' and the Zoom 
dialogue box appears, offering 
various percentages or a box where 
you can enter a precise percentage 
(see screen 2). It only duplicates the 
Zoom box that already appears 



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under the View tab, and the Zoom tool 
that many people have on the 
Formatting toolbar in earlier versions 
of Excel. In either Zoom box you can 
enter 39% and borders will appear 
around Named ranges and their names 
will be displayed. 

The Zoom Slider lets you zoom 
in to 400 per cent and out to 10 per 
cent by dragging it left or right with 
the mouse. It will also display the 
current Zoom percentage. In addition, 
if you highlight a range, and your 
screen is full, you can enlarge that 



range within the worksheet. 

The three remaining options - 
Signatures, Information Management 
Policy and Permissions, provide 
information about the rights and 
restrictions of the current file. They 
only apply if you are using Office 
Sharepoint Server to share 
spreadsheets among groups of 
users (see screen 3). 

Sharepoint server is built in to 
Microsoft's Windows 2003 Server 
operating system. It lets you build 
websites where people can share 
Excel workbooks, discuss them and 
collaborate on them. For the largest 
organisations there is the more 
expensive Office Sharepoint 2007. It 
includes an advanced set of features 
called Excel Services. But I only 
mention this to explain the items on 
the Status Bar. To learn more about 
Office Sharepoint Server, go to http:// 
office.microsoft.com/en-gb/sharepoint 
server/FX100492001033.aspx. 

Status symbol 

In addition to all these items, you 
can add your own choice of message 
in the Excel Status Bar with a short 
macro. Press Alt & Fl 1. Double -click 
on This Workbook in VBA Project 
Explorer and enter: 
Sub StatusBarO 
Application. StatusBar=" i^ 
Substitute your message here" 
End Sub 

(Key: i^ code string continues) 

Press Alt & Fl 1 to return to a 
worksheet. Press Alt & F8. Click 
Options and create a keyboard 
shortcut such as Shift & Ctrl & S. Run 
the macro with the shortcut. PCW 



Counting letters 

if you have a group of grade letters A to F 
in the range A1:A30, in cell B1 enter: 
=CHAR(IVI0DE(C0DE(A1:A30))) 

The most common grade will be displayed. 

It works like this. MODE returns the most 
frequently recurring value in the range. As this 
function needs numbers to work with and not 
letters CODE is used to provide the numeric 
code for the letters in this range. 

CHAR translates the number back again so 
it can be displayed in cell B1. 

If you are using Windows, CHAR and 
CODE will use characters and their numbers 
from the Ansi (American National Standards 
Institute) set. 

CHAR (97) is a lower case 'a'. 
CHAR(66) is a capital B'. CODE ("M") 



returns the number 77. To find these numbers, 
click Symbol on the Insert menu (or Ribbon tab 
in Excel 2007). Under Font, choose Normal text. 
In the From box, choose Ascii (decimal). 







i 


i 




















I " 


u 


$ 


% 


& 


- 


f 


) 


* 


+ 


, 






/ 





1 2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


9 




J 


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= 


> 


7 


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D 


E 


F 


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Refer to the Symbols box for Ansi code numbers 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



151 



HANDS ON > SOUND 




Niall Magennis has been 

dabbling in Midi and digital audio since the 
days of the Atari ST. He writes for a number 
of music magazines and lives in London in a 
flat overrun with music equipment. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Sound column. It returns in the 
August issue. Email 
sound@pcw.co.uk Please do not 
send unsolicited file attachments. 



Create your own ringtones 

it's easy to convert songs into ringtones using just a few simple tools 



Not that long ago mobile 
phones rang out with 
monophonic renditions of 
well-known tunes that 
often sounded worse than a bunch of 
cats being strangled. Thankfully those 
days are gone and most phones can 
play digital recordings of real music. 

Although this means you now hear 
some dodgy ringtones, such as the 
samba ditty on your manager's phone, 
it has stopped the problem of everyone 
simultaneously reaching into their 
pocket each time the Nokia Tune 
begins to play. 

Of course, now that phones can 
play proper music there are now more 
companies than ever trying to sell you 
new ringtones at exorbitant prices. 
Usually these new ringtones are 
branded as Trutones or Realtones, 
and sometimes it can be more 
expensive to have a ringtone sent to 
your phone than it is to buy and 
download a full track to your PC, 
which is a pretty ridiculous situation. 
Worse still, if you buy a new phone 
the ring tone that you bought for your 
old one may not be transferable to it, 
or may not be compatible with your 
more up-to-date handset. 

Music companies aren't all that 
bothered about compatibility issues as 
each time we buy a new ringtone 
royalties from the sale are filtered back 
to them to fill their coffers. However, it 
doesn't have to be this way. With a 
little effort and the right tools you can 
quickly use your PC to convert 
existing music on CD or MP3 into a 
ringtone that you can then transfer to 
your phone. Be aware, however, that 
copying copyright-protected music is 
illegal if you don't have permission. 

What you'll need 

To get started you'll need to get your 
hands on some editing software that 
can be used to trim your audio file to a 







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suitable length and then save it as an 
MP3 file. One of the best tools for this 
type of job is a program called 
Audacity. It's a free, open-source audio 
editor that can be downloaded from 
http://audacity.sourceforge.net. To allow 
Audacity to save your file in the MP3 
format you'll also need the Lame MP3 
codec. You can download this via 
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/ 
faq?s=installSritem=lame-mp3. 

Next you need some audio that you 
can turn into a ringtone. You can use 
either an MP 3 file that you already 
have on your PC or rip a track from an 
audio CD. If you want to rip a track 
you can use Windows Media Player 1 1 
for this purpose. Open Windows 
Media Player and click Tools, Options 
and then Rip Music. Choose WAV 
(Lossless) in the dropdown Format box 
under Rip Settings (see screen 1). 

Unfortunately earlier versions of 
WMP can't be used to rip your file 
from CD because they don't support 
ripping to WAV format. However, you 
can always use iTunes instead. Just 
make sure you set the ripping option 
to WAV in the Advanced section of the 
Preferences menu. 

Now you've got your audio file 



Make sure you 
set Windows 
Media Player 11 
to rip in WAV 
Lossless format 



The peak in the 
jagged line around 
the cursor 
represents the first 



Hil:H J?W ready it's time to load up 
Audacity. Once it has 
started, click on the File 
Menu and select Open. 
Choose your WAV or MP3 
file and click OK. 

You'll now see the 
waveform for the audio 
file laid out in front of 
you running from left to 
right across the screen. 
Click on the Play button 
or hit the space bar to 
start listening to the 
track. You can quickly 
move to anywhere in the 
track by clicking on a 
location in the waveform 
and then double-tapping your space 
bar. To zoom in and out of the file 
select the Magnifying Glass icon and 
then click the left mouse button to 
zoom in and the right mouse button to 
zoom back out again. To return to 
editing mode select the icon that looks 
like a capital T. 

Top and tail 

For a ringtone, you'll usually want to 
use a phrase from a tune rather than 
the whole song, so scan the music for a 
suitable section that you can cut out of 
the main track. You're looking for a 



drum hit in the bar section that's around 30 seconds long. 






SCREEN 2 



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152 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON SOUND Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/sound 



SOUND < HANDS ON 



SCREEN 3 



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Here we're 
trimming down 
the file to make 
it more suited to 
a short ringtone 



When you've found the part you 
want to use the next step is to trim it 
to the required length. Rather than 
having a ringtone that comes to an 
abrupt stop you want it to naturally 
reach the end of a bar or section and 
then stop neatly. Usually you can spot 
the bass and snare drum hits in a piece 
of music because the wave form tends 
to peak around these areas and then 
trail out after them to form a sort of 
jagged horizontal triangular shape 



'You now hear some dodgy 
ringtones, such as the samba 
ditty on your manager's phone' 



(see screen 2). To trim the start of 
your ringtone look for the first drum 
hit in the music. Now click and 
highlight the area of the wave form 
just before it and then hit the Delete 
key (see screen 3). Press Play to 
audition the change you've made. 
If you've trimmed too much off the 
start of the audio press Ctrl & Z to 
undo the edit you've just made and 
try again. 

Once you've got the start of your 
audio trimmed you need to do the 
same with the end of the file. Try to 
trim the audio just before the first bass 
drum kick at the start of a new phrase 
or bar. This way the start and end of 
your ringtone should match up. If you 
hold down the Shift key before hitting 
the Play button. Audacity will switch 
to loop mode so you can more easily 
audition your file and check whether 
the start and end form a perfect loop. 

When you're happy with the edits 
you've made the final step is to export 
the audio to a new MP 3 file. The 
built-in speaker or speakers on most 
phones respond to a relatively low 
range of frequencies so we can get 
away with reducing the bit rate of the 



Reducing the bit 
rate to 64 Kbits/sec 
will save on 
storage space 



Transfer ringtones to another handset 



if you already own a ringtone that 
you'd like to use on a different 
handset you may be able to transfer 
the file from one phone to another. 
If the two phones you are using are 
reasonably modern then the easiest 
way of doing this is to use a wireless 
Bluetooth connection. 

For example, if you want to send 
a file from a Sony Ericsson handset 
you first enter the phone's main 
menu and then select the File 
Manager icon. Next choose Music 
and enter the Ringtones folder. On 
Sony Ericsson phones the ringtones 
format should be obvious from the 
icon next to it. For 
example, MPS tones are 
shown by a musical note 
icon with the letters MPS 
printed next to it. 
Similarly M4A files have 
a music note icon with 
M4A printed on it. As 
MPS files have no Digital 
Rights Management 
embedded in the file, 
you should have no 
problems transferring an 
MPS tone from one 
phone to another. 

To start transferring 
the file, first select it in 
the list and then press the 
More softkey. Choose 
Send from the pop-up 
menu and then select Via 
Bluetooth. As long as 
Bluetooth is activated on 



C9 '" 




both phones the Bluetooth name of 
the receiving handset should now 
appear on the screen. Highlight the 
phone's name and choose Select. 
You may be asked whether you 
want to accept the transfer of the 
file on the other handset. If so, just 
select yes. The file will then be sent 
to your new phone. Most phones 
will automatically store the 
transferred file in their ringtone 
folder, but you'll probably have to 
enter this folder and manually set 
the new tone to act as your default. 

If your phone doesn't have 
Bluetooth then you may be able to 
transfer the file in a 
similar way using infra- 
red. If neither handset 
has infra-red then you 
may be able to save 
the file to your phone's 
memory card and 
transfer the card into 
your new phone. 
Another method that 
might work is to 
connect your phone to 
your PC and then use 
the relevant software 
for each handset to 
download the tone 
from the old handset 
and upload it to the 
new one. 

Bluetooth makes it easy 
to wirelessly transfer ring 
tones between handsets 



tone without affecting its perceived 
audio quality too much. Reducing the 
bit rate also has the benefit of reducing 
the space needed to store it, leaving 
you with more room to store pictures 
and music tracks. 




By default Audacity exports MP3s 
at a bit rate of 128Kbits/sec, but we 
need to change this to 64Kbits/sec. 
Click on the Edit menu. Select 
Preferences and then click on the File 
Formats tab. At the bottom of this 
window there's a dropdown box 
marked Bit Rate. Click on this, select 
64 and then click on the OK button 
(see screen 4). 

Now to export the tone click on the 
File menu, select Export As MP3, enter 
a file name and then click Save. 
Audacity will ask you to fill in the 
Artist and Song Title information for 
the file's ID 3 tags and then your file 
will be saved to disk. 

You can now send the file to your 
phone via Bluetooth or USB, or simply 
by copying it to a memory card and 
slotting it into your phone. PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



153 



HANDS ON > NETWORKS 




Alan Stevens has implemented and 


-^ Comments welcome on the 


supported networks for over 25 years, 


Networks column. 


working for IT vendors, system integrators 


Email networks@pcw.co.uk 


and customers. He now mostly researches 


Please do not send unsolicited 


and writes about networking matters. 


file attachments. 



Crack Homeplug encryption 

A guide to encrypting Powerline networks, and more about Vista's first Service Pack 



In this Network Hands On, I'd like 
to revisit the question I tried to 
address in my last column - "If 
Powerline/Homeplug devices can 
communicate across circuits, will 
devices in the next house or office, or 
even down the street, be able to 
connect to mine?" 

I've always been sceptical that this 
might be possible and ran a few tests 
with a neighbour to check, but it 
seems I didn't quite appreciate how 
AC power is distributed in the UK and 
didn't do as much testing as necessary. 
Several of you wrote in pointing out 
where I went wrong, but I'm most 
grateful to David Mowbray of Sheffield 
University who sent the following. 

"I read with interest your article 
concerning Powerline networks in the 
March edition of PCW. However, the 
issue of security and your test of a 
possible connection to a next door 
house has additional complications. 

"The power cables running down a 
street contain three separate supplies, 
referred to as the three phases. While 
all three of these phases will be fed 
into large buildings, as this allows 
powerful equipment to be driven, only 
one of these phases will be fed into an 
individual house. Hence along the 
street one -third of the houses will be 
connected to one phase, one-third to 
another and so on. If two houses are 
connected to different phases then no 
connection will be possible between 
Powerline networks in these houses. 

"Although a third of houses will 
be connected to a given phase, the 
connections are made at random, 
so two adjacent houses could be on 
the same phase but only with a 
one -third probability. 

"Hence to fully test the security of 
this system you need to try to establish 
a connection first with the house next 
door, then the next one down the 
street and so on. You should also test 




two houses on the other side of 
the road. 

"As you say, encryption should be 
turned on, so the above is less of an 
issue but could be important if you 
were deliberately trying to establish a 
network between neighbouring 
houses. Also it is possible that in some 
large buildings different parts of the 
building may draw their power from 
different phases." 

I'll leave the issue for now and 
simply reiterate that it's unlikely to be 
an issue for most domestic users, and 
agree with David that if you're worried 
then you should make full use of the 
encryption offered to scramble and 
thus protect your data. 

Practical encryption 

Most of the Powerline/Homeplug 
devices I've tried have fallen into one 
of two categories: those that use 
software to set up and manage 
encryption, and those that do it all in 
the hardware. Of the two, the latter 
are still in the minority but are the 
easiest to configure, as with Solwise 
NET-PL-200AV Push adapter, which 
was reviewed in the January issue. 

The Solwise Push adapter is a £50 
ex Vat 200Mbits/sec Homeplug device. 
Encryption can be configured using 
software if you want, but there is also 
a button that can set it for you. 
Referred to by the developers as 



A button on the 
front of the Solwise 
NET-PL-200AV 
Push adapter 
makes it easy 
to configure 
encryption and 
protect a Homeplug 
network 



This Windows 
utility has 
discovered two 
Netgear Homeplug 
devices, one 
local and one 
connected via the 
mains wiring 



Simple Connect, this tells the adapter 
to find others on the network then 
decide on a randomly generated, 
128-bit AES key, also called the private 
network name, to scramble data. 

The process is very quick and easy. 
If you have two adapters, simply push 
the button on one then, within two 
minutes, do the same on the other. 

In a situation where you're adding 
a third, fourth or other adapter, push 
the button on one of the existing 
devices then, again within two 
minutes, do the same on the new one. 
The key will be generated, shared and 
the devices connected to form a 
secure, encrypted Lan. 

On the downside, if you use the 
Simple Connect option you can't mix 
Solwise Push adapters with those from 
other vendors. That's principally 
because you don't know what key is 
being used. Opt for the software 
approach and interoperability is 
achievable, but the hardware method 
simplifies the process and most home 
users will stick with one vendor 
anyway, so it's not such a big issue. 

The software method 

Other vendors, such as Devolo 
(www.devolo.com), also sell adapters 
with a button to set up encryption, but 



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154 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON NETWORKS Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/networks 



NETWORKS < HANDS ON 



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To stop 
unauthorised 
changes to the 
key on remote 
Netgear adapters 
you have to first 
supply a hardware 
password found 
on a printed label 
on each device 



most still rely on software to configure 
the option. Exactly what's involved 
here can vary, although most vendors 
ship an implementation of the same 
utility and, for my examples here, I've 
used the one that came with a couple 
of 85Mbits/sec Netgear devices 
(Netgear XE104 wall-plug switches) 
which I use on my network. 

The Netgear utility can be installed 
on any PC running Windows 2000 or 
later, including Vista, the only major 
requisite being a network connection. 

When it first starts up you'll see a 
display like that in screen 1, showing 
the local Powerline devices on the Lan 
to which the host PC is attached with, 
underneath, a second list of those 
found connected via the AC mains 
supply. In the screenshot just two 
devices have been found. A local 
adapter which has a MAC address 
ending AB:39, and one remotely 
connected via the mains wiring 
(referred to as 'Device 1') which has 
an address ending AA:D3. 

Encryption is enabled already 
although this isn't immediately 
obvious. That's because when taken 
out of the box and first plugged in the 
Netgear adapters find each other and 
create a public network using a key 
(Netgear calls it the private network 
password) of 'Homeplug' to encrypt 
the data. Any new Netgear adapter 
will also be set to use this key so can 
be added to the network without 
having to be configured, as will most 
devices from other vendors, so it's a 
good idea to change the key used. 

There are two ways of going about 
this, one of which is to plug all the 
adapters you want to set up into the 
same Lan. You can then change their 
passwords individually or all together, 
using the encryption utility provided 
(see screen 2). Because the adapters 
are all on the same local network this 
can be done without providing any 



The default additional security information, the 

encryption key, or software assuming that you 'own' all 

Private Network the adapters involved. 

Password, can That assumption can't, however, 

be changed be made if some of the adapters are 

individually or on connected over the mains, as anyone 

all the adapters on could then plug in an adapter and 
the network change the network password globally 

to gain access. So before you're 
allowed to change the password of a 
remote adapter you have first to type 
in a preset hardware password. This 
can be done from the main display 
(see screen 3) with, in the case of the 
Netgear adapters, the hardware 
password to be found printed on a 
label on each device. 

Before I leave the issue of 
Powerline/Homeplug networking, at 
least for the time being, I want to clear 
up one other common mix-up 
regarding interoperability. 

Two types of Homeplug adapter are 
available. First, those that conform to 



the original Homeplug 1.0 standard, 
generally marketed as capable of 
communicating at either 14 or 
85Mbits/sec (turbo mode), and 
second-generation 200Mbits/sec 
products, such as the Solwise NET-PL- 
200AV Push adapter, mentioned 
above. The latter tend to be referred 
to as Homeplug AV products, although 
they can have other names and are 
generally advertised as suitable for 
streaming HDTV, Voice over IP and 
other bandwidth hungry traffic. 

Homeplug 1.0 devices should all 
be able to talk to each other, whether 
rated at 14 or 85Mbits/sec. They 
can also co-exist alongside Homeplug 
AV adapters on the same mains 
wiring. However, Homeplug 1.0 
and AV products can't communicate 
with each other, so either buy 
another Homeplug 1.0 device or 
replace what you have with an 
all-AV setup. PCW 



A bit more about Vista file copying 



Microsoft has finally released more information 
relating to file copy enhancements in the Vista 
SP1 update that I talked about last month. This 
confirms that you can expect big improvements 
in speed when the update has been applied, 
especially when copying to and from other 
Vista or Windows Server 2008 systems. 
Unfortunately there are a couple of 
instances when SP1 can have an adverse effect. 
One is when copying to or from a Server 2003 



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system over a slow network, where changes 
made to address possible server caching issues 
can halve throughput compared to Vista RTM. 
The other is when making copies of large files 
on the same volume. 

On the good news front, with SP1 applied 
Vista should be more responsive and Windows 
Explorer faster at coming up with an estimate 
of the time it will take to copy files. Those 
estimates should also be more accurate. 

So even if it takes longer you will 
at least be able to get on with 
something else or, failing that, 
know if you've time to make a 
coffee or not. 



With SP1 applied Vista will be quicker 
and more accurate at estimating how 
long it will take to copy files 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



155 



HANDS ON > DATABASES 




Mark Whitehorn isoneof 


-^ Comments welcome on the 


those lost souls who actually likes 


Databases column. 


databases. He splits his time between 


Email database@pcw.co.uk 


consultancy, writing, working for two 


Please do not send unsolicited 


universities and tinkering with old cars. 


file attachments. 



Trawling engines 



Just how does a database engine worl<? Plus a query about organising fishing data 



A database engine is designed 
to store, manipulate and 
query data. Ttiat's it; 
nottiing more; easy, really. 
The odd ttiing is ttiat this simple and 
entirely accurate view is often not 
understood even by database 
professionals and, for reasons that will 
shortly become apparent, that can 
cause serious problems. 

By far the most common type of 
database engine is the relational 
database engine (examples are DB2, 
Access, SQL Server, and Oracle). 
Relational engines store data in tables 
and allow us to organise the data 
according to a set of rules, producing 
so-called 'normalised' data. Essentially 
the rules say that each piece of data 
should be stored only once and that 
data about the same type of thing 
should be stored in the same table. 
For instance, data about birdspotting 
should be in one table and data about 
a book collection should be in another. 

One of the advantages of 
normalised data is that you get certain 
guarantees about its behaviour when 
you query it. If you phrase the 
question correctly, you always get the 
right answer and all of the data can be 
queried in a predictable way that can 
be reproduced. 

So what doesn't a database engine 
do? Database engines, whether 
relational or not, have nothing to say 
about how the data is presented to the 
user after the query has been run. 
They don't have any 'interest' in how 
it's presented on a form, in a report, on 
labels, or anywhere else. The database 
engine will fetch the data requested 
but that's all. 

Access is something of an oddity in 
the database world in that, in addition 
to a database engine, it comes with a 
built-in form designer and a report 
generator. High-end client-server 
databases (SQL Server, DB2, Oracle) 



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don't have tools for building forms or 
reports - you are expected to use a 
different piece of software for that, 
produced either by the same 
manufacturer or by a third party. 

However, it still obeys the rule. 
Access' database engine (Jet) has no 
truck with layout, it just so happens 
that Access also includes some 
additional components (form and 
report tools) that clearly are concerned 
with layout and let you go some way 
to controlling layout. However, they 
don't always go far enough to solve 
everyone's problems. The report 
generator especially is not stunningly 
good, but saying so is rather like 
complaining that a dog doesn't sing 
very well: most database systems can't 
sing at all. 

Sometimes the presentation of data 
is a major issue and one that it's not 
always easy to solve. Within the space 
of a few days I received two questions 
which on the face of it were very 
different but, in fact, both were 
questions about layout. 

A question of address labels 

The first question came from Rodney 
Bryant who runs an Access 
membership database, one category of 
which is a 'family membership' that 
covers the whole family including 
children. Rodney would like to create 
an address label that addresses the 



This form is full of 
zeros, which we 
want to eliminate 



The normalised 
database has 
two tables 



children independently, so that if Mr 
Smith has two children, Alice and Ben, 
he wants a label reading 'Alice and 
Ben Smith'. 

The data is normalised so it is very 
easy to extract a list of names of all 
children covered by a family 
membership agreement. Each child's 
name will appear in a row in the 
answer table. To achieve a line on a 
label reading 'Alice and Ben Smith', 
we would have to take data from 



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156 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON DATABASES Go to 
WW w. pew. CO . u k/tags/d atabases 



DATABASES < HANDS ON 



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several separate rows and present it in 
a single row. That's a description of a 
presentation job, not a database job, 
which is why SQL has no direct way of 
doing it. 

Indeed, if we try to solve this 
problem with SQL then we are using 
the wrong tool. The database engine is 
not designed to present data other 
than in the most basic form (as tables 
with rows and columns) and SQL 
doesn't have any constructions for 
presentation. This is the kind of task a 
reporting tool should undertake (and 
the one in Access might require you to 
delve down into Visual Basic to 
produce the desired result). 

If your reporting tool won't do it, 
change your reporting tool. Don't 
change the database engine because 
doing so won't help. 

Incidentally, I'm not saying that it is 
impossible to solve Rodney's problem 
using SQL - all manner of Byzantine 
constructions can be dreamed up to 
force it to do things for which it wasn't 
designed; Cartesian joins and make- 
table queries usually feature in them. 
But you'd still be using the wrong tool. 

A question of fish 

Fran Cobden has an Access 2000 
database for storing fishing activity on 
sea trips and has normalised the data 
structure but has met a stumbling 
block when designing new forms. Fran 
wants to duplicate the look of the form 
from the old non-normalised regime, 
which used a form with an embedded 
sub-form (see screen 1). 

The form shows all the details 
about a single trip; the sub-form had 
one row for each day of fishing activity 
on the trip, which showed the number 
of each species of fish caught. This was 
fine except that there are 45 species 
of fish, identified by three -letter codes, 
of which on average 1 are caught 
per trip, so the sub-form was always 
jam-packed full of nulls. In the new, 
normalised database Fran hoped to 
lose all of the nulls. 



A crosstab query 
will produce the 
sub-form data 



The answer table 
produced by the 
crosstab query 



The normalised 
database has two tables 
(see screen 2) - one stores 
details about each trip 
(Trip) and one records the 
catch made on each day of 
fishing (Catch). This 
sample database has a 
much simplified version of 
the data. 

Basing a form on the 
Trip table is so simple that 
we can use the wizard. 

The data for the sub-form is also easy: 

we can use this crosstab query called 

CrosstabCatch (see screen 3): 

TRANSFORM Sum(Catch. Weight) t^ 

AS SumOfWeight 

SELECT Catch. TripID, ^ 

Catch. 4DayID, Sumi^ 

(Catch. Weight) ASi^ 

TotalWeight 

FROM Catch 

GROUP BY Catch. TripID, ^ 

Catch. DaylD 

ORDER BY Catch. DaylD 

PIVOT Catch. Species; 

(Key: i^ code string continues) 

which produces an answer table 
looking like screen 4. 

So, we've got the data. This is the 
point for Access users where the 
limitations of the user interface begin 
to bite. 

The obvious approach is to embed 
the crosstab query as a sub-form on to 
a form, but Access won't allow that. 
It's possible to proceed by making the 
crosstab query a parameter query 
(remembering to specify the data type 
by going to Query on the main menu. 
Parameters). A button can then be 
placed on the form which runs the 
parameter/crosstab query. Click the 
button and you'll be prompted for the 
ID of the trip for which you want to 
see the records. 

Type it in and the data is displayed. 
It's a kludgy solution and a work- 
around typical of the type constructed 
when the UI runs out of gas. You can 
also attack the problem with VB code. 



Feeling bookish? 

Essential Database Stuff, the 
book I mentioned in April, is 
now complete and proving 
popular. It contains selected 
highlights from this column - 
tips, tricks, solutions and other 
useful material - all brought 
right up to date: visit 
www.penguinsoft.co.uk for 
more details. 



The workaround solution is in 
the database on this month's cover 
disc, using a query called Par and 
the form. Trip. You'll also find the 
database at www.pcw.co.uk/2151344. 
You can move through the records 
in the main form, click the Run 
Query button and enter the trip ID. 
The crosstab displays the results. 

MUST be moving along 

In the October column I discussed 
upsizing from Access to SQL Server 
and talked about a tool called MUST 
(www.upsizing.co.uk). At that time I said 
it was great but pointed out a couple 
of limitations. Forget those, they are 
history; what was great is now even 
greater. MUST -i-WEB can upsize your 
Access database to a .Net/SQL Server 
solution. It is difficult to stress how 
useful this tool is; assuming that you 
need to do that conversion, it can turn 
weeks of work into a day of play. 

Bang, shriek, piing 

In the March Q&A section I wrote 
about the pronunciation of the ! 
symbol in the US. It turns out that 
the global pronunciation isn't as 
simple as I thought. 

Darren Van Laar emailed to say: '1 
was amused to see you explaining the 
US terms for explanation marks. While 
on a computer course in the 1980s, I 
was taught it is pronounced 'pling' by 
programmers in the UK." PCW 



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June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



157 



HANDS ON > VISUAL PROGRAMMING 




Tim Anderson is an it journalist 
and software developer, and began writing 
for PCW in 1993. Since his first Commodore 
Pet, he has acquired expertise in Rad 
programming, Windows and the internet. 



-^ Comments welcome on the 
Visual programming column. 

Email visual@pcw.co.uk 
Please do not send unsolicited 
file attachments. 



Powerful part of the script 

How to convert your music files with Windows' new scripting environment 



PowerShell is a new scripting 
environment for Windows. It 
is a free add-on for Windows 
XP SP2, Server 2003, Vista or 
Server 2008. Microsoft created 
PowerShell as part of a strategy for 
making Windows more command-line 
friendly, though it is unfortunate that 
it does not run on Server Core, the 
new installation option for Windows 
Server that has no GUI at all. 

PowerShell is also an interesting 
language in its own right. It is based 
on .Net, is fully object oriented, and 
designed to be powerful and concise. 
Although it is particularly useful for 
administrators, it can be used for all 
kinds of task. PowerShell is addictive. 

A core concept in PowerShell is the 
pipeline. This lets you pass the output 
from one part of a statement as input 
to the next part, avoiding the need for 
intermediate variables. For example, 
when investigating performance in 
Windows, you might run Task 
Manager and sort the running 
processes by memory or CPU usage. 
Here's a single -line command in 
PowerShell that shows the top 10 
processes by memory usage, with the 
results shown in screen 1 : 
get-process | sort-object WS -l: 
descending | select-object -i^ 
first 10 

(Key: ti" code string continues) 

Note the use of the vertical bar, 
which is the pipe character. You can 
read this as a flow: 

1. Get a collection of objects 
representing running processes. 

2. Take this output and sort it into 

a new collection, sorted by working 
set (memory). 

3. Take this output and select the 
first 10. 

PowerShell is easily extended, and 
people have been busy posting their 
most useful or fun scripts. One 
collection is called the PowerShell 



yr VftrvdofM^ PowefShelj 



»W:JddJ 



Sorting processes 
by memory usage 



gSCK> UPKHJ CPUfsJ 



Community Extensions. This includes 
a script, or CmdLet in PowerShell 
jargon, which converts text to speech. 
Once installed, tag the following to the 
end of a statement, and the output is 
read aloud instead of printed: 
I out-speech 

That could be handy for someone 
with failing eyesight and shows the 
flexibility of the tool. What follows is 
not a complete tutorial, but some hints 
to get you started, plus a sample script. 

PowerShell survival guide 

To install PowerShell, just download it 
and run setup. You will then find it on 
the Start menu. Think of it as an 
alternative to the traditional command 
prompt. It supports ancient Dos 
commands such as DIR, as well as 
Unix-like commands such as Is and its 
own more object-oriented techniques. 

There is no code completion in 
PowerShell, so to find out what 
properties and methods an object 
supports use the get-member 
command. Try it on a process object: 
get-process | select-object -ur 
first 1 I get -member 

PowerShell is annoying in that it 
installs by default with a restrictive 
execution policy, requiring all scripts 
to be signed. Unless this is what you 
want, change it to allow local scripts. 
To do this, run PowerShell with local 
administrator rights at least once. On 
Vista, right- click and choose Run as 



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Administrator, then type: 
Set-ExecutionPolicy i^ 
RemoteSigned 

This means local scripts, those you 
write yourself, will run without being 
signed. Scripts that are downloaded 
will not run until you unblock them: 
right-click. Properties, Unblock. 

Creating a PowerShell profile 

An easy way to customise PowerShell 
is through your profile. This is, in 
effect, a startup script for PowerShell 
and has a .psl extension. By default, 
the profile script does not exist. To 
create it, run PowerShell and type 
Sprofile. This prints the location where 
PowerShell thinks it should be. Copy it 
by selecting it, then click the right 
mouse button. It is likely to be in a 
directory called WindowsPowerShell in 
your Documents folder. Create the 
directory if necessary 
mkdir [directoryname] 
and then run Notepad, passing the full 
path and filename as an argument. 
When you type scripts or other 
commands at the PowerShell prompt, 
they will not execute unless you 
either supply a full path, or they are 
on the Windows path. It's convenient 
to create a Scripts folder where you 
can place your own scripts; say, under 
the WindowsPowerShell directory. You 
can put this on the path via the profile, 
with the following statements: 
#let's set our own scripts path 



158 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



MORE HANDS ON VISUAL PROGRAMMING Go to 
www.pcw.co.uk/tags/visual_programming 



VISUAL PROGRAMMING < HANDS ON 



Use PowerShell to convert Flac to MP3 



Flac is an excellent open-source format for 
storing music ripped from CDs. It is lossless, 
which means you get quality and flexibility. 
Unfortunately, Flac files are large and not 
compatible with Apple's iPod. Here's how you 
can use PowerShell to convert a batch of Flac 
files to MP3. Unlike some converters, this one 
will preserve tag information so that iTunes or 
other music software can index them sensibly. 
For this to work, you need to download 
flac.exe (http://flac.sourceforge.net) and 
lame.exe (http://lame.sourceforge.net). 
The Lame home page does not include a 
Windows binary, but you can get one from 
Rarewares (rare wares.org). Place both files in 
your scripts folder. 

This script is in two parts. The first is a 
function for converting a single Flac file to 
MP3. The technique is to decode the Flac file 
to a temporary WAV, which is the format 
Lame accepts, then convert this to MPS. 
Here is the script, Flac2MP3.ps1. These are 
for the source and destination files: 
param( [string]$f lacf ile, ^ 
[ string ]$mp3file) 
$tempwav = [System. 10. Path] : :i^ 
GetTempFileName ( ) 
flac -sdf $flacfile -o $tempwav 
lame -b 192 -quiet $tempwav i^ 
$mp3file 
rm $tempwav 

(Key: \^ code string continues) 

This code includes a call to a standard 
.Net assembly. System. lO. The :: operator 
calls a static method. You could do this just as 
easily from a batch file, but the new MPS file 
has no tags. PowerShell cannot read tags 
from Flac files; the solution is to install an 
additional .Net library, such as the open 
source TagLib#. Download it and place the 
file taglib-sharp.dll in your scripts folder. This 
additional code copies several tags from the 
source Flac to the destination MPS: 
#fix the tags 

[Reflection. Assembly] : :LoadFilei^ 
("$IVIyPSHome\Scripts\^ 



taglib-sharp.dll") 

$sourcefile = v. 

[TagLib.File] : :Create($flacfile) 

$destf ile = i^ 

[TagLib.File] : :Create($mp3file) 

$destfile. Tag. Track = i^ 
$sourcef ile . Tag . Track 
$destfile. Tag. Title = i^ 
$sourcef ile . Tag . Title 
$destf ile. Tag. Album = i^ 
$sourcef ile . Tag .Album 

$destf ile. Tag. Performers = i^ 
$SourceFile . Tag . Performers 
if ($SourceFile.tag.AlbumArtistSi^ 
.Length -gt 0) 

{ 

$destfile.Tag.AlbumArtists = i^ 

$SourceFile . Tag . AlbumArtists 

} 
else 

{ 

$destf ile. Tag. AlbumArtists = i^ 

$SourceFile . Tag . Performers 

} 

$destf ile. Save 

Write- host "$mp3file created" 

The first line of code loads the external 
.Net assembly into PowerShell. This means 
that virtually any .Net code can become a 
PowerShell extension. Next, the script copies 
the tags across using the TagLib API. The 



Fast conversion 
with tag 

preservation allows 
music players to 
see the original 
metadata, such 
as title and artist 



code checks for a zero-length array in 
AlbumArtists - note the -gt operator, which 
means 'greater than' - and uses the 
Performers tag if it is empty. A finished script 
would copy more tags and check for errors. 

An advantage of Flac2MPS is that you 
can use it in further scripts. For example, here 
is ConvertFLAC.psI, which converts all the 
Flac files in a specified directory: 
#convert a directory from i^ 
FLAC to MPS 
param( [string]$sourcedir) 

$thisdir = get-childitem i^ 
$sourcedir -filter *.flac 
$thisdir | foreach-object v.- 
process { 

$rootfile = $sourcedir + "\" + i^ 
[system. io. path] : igetfilei^ 
namewithoutextension($_) 
Flac2IVIP3 ($rootfile + ".flac") ^ 
($rootfile +".mp3") 

} 

This example uses get-childitem with the 
-filter argument to get a collection of Flac 
files, then passes them one by one to 
Flac2MPS using a foreach loop. You could 
adapt this to recurse through a series of 
directories, or to create the MPS files in a 
different location. A single CD took three 
minutes on our laptop, so a large batch will 
take a while. However, a specialist utility called 
dBpowerAmp took slightly longer, suggesting 
there is little overhead from PowerShell - most 
of the time is spent crunching the data. 




$IVIyPSHome = Split -Path -path i^ 

$profile 

$env:path = $env:path + i^ 

";$IVIyPSHome\Scripts" 

Note the # character, which 
introduces a comment, and the $ 
character, which declares variables. 
PowerShell will also find any custom 
functions in the profile script. 

Typing get-help at the PowerShell 
prompt gives access to the built-in 
documentation, but a graphical help 
file is more convenient. Download the 
PowerShell helpfile and follow the 



instructions for adding get-guihelp as a 
function in your profile. Another great 
idea is to install the PowerShell 
Community Extensions. The 
download location is given below. 

When you install the Extensions, 
the setup offers to install its own 
profile, which may conflict with your 
own preferences. Uncheck this option; 
you can always install it later from its 
folder in Program Files. However, you 
need a minimal addition to your profile 
to make the extensions available: 
Add-PSSnapin Pscx 



$env:path = $env:path + i^ 
";$env:PscxHome;$env: i^ 
PscxHome\Scripts" 

PowerShell resources 

Home page: www.microsoft.com/windows 

server2003/technologies/management/ 

powershell/default.mspx 

Graphical: www.microsoft.com/technet/ 

scriptcenter/topics/winpsh/pschm.mspx 

Community Extensions: 

www.codeplex.com/PowerShellCX 

TagLib#: www.taglib-sharp. 

com/Download/ PCW 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



159 



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♦ Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium & Works 

♦ Factory clearance stock boxed as new.1 year warranty 

♦ 17" TFT Monitor add E85+VAT (£99.88 inc VAT) 

♦ 19" TFT Monitor add E99+VAT (£116.33 inc VAT) 





TOMTOM I 

IN-CAR MOBILE SATNAV 
< WITH BLUETOOTH 

£99 £116.33 

+VAT mc VAT 



♦ Tomtom Go 510 compact, mobile voice guidance GPS 

♦ Build in Bluetooth for in-car mobile phone connectivity 

♦ Full UK Road maps and European Major Road Maps. 

♦ 4" Widescreen Colour Touchscreen, Voice-guidance 

♦ Complete with SD Card, USB Docking station, Car 
charger, AC Adapter, Case and External Microphone 

♦ As new open boxed product complete with warranty 



.f^nooucT 



CECT DUAL SIM 
m MOBILE PHONE 

£85 £%8 

+VAT mc VAT 



CECTT6S5 Dual Sim PDA Mobile Phone. Features 
includes 2 sim sockets on any network both running at 
the same time. Ideal for people using 2 mobile phones 
travelling abroad etc. Also features PDA functions with 
Touchscreen, PC connectivitiy. Camera, MP3 & MPEG4 
functions. Includes PC cable. Headphones, Charger etc. 



r\-l'^^\ll 



CALLERS WELCOME TO OUR SHOWROOM 
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY PLEASE PHONE TO 
— CONFIRM AVAILABILITY OPENING TIMES 

1 STAND LANE, RADCUFFE, MANCHESTER, M26 1NW. MON-FRI 9am-6pm SAT9am-12pm 

Mail Order mCi fOO OOOO Other Enquires Call; 0845 337 3324 or visit our website at 

Sales caM: 01 Ol /2o2222 Fax No: 0161 723 2200 www,iomputerbargwns,€o,uk 



TOSHIBA 

TECRAM2 CENTRINO 
CDRW+DVDXP PRO LAPTOP .. 

£1 99 £233.83 1 » 

+VAT mc VAT 



♦ Toshiba Tecra M2, Intel Centrino 1.6GHz CPU 

♦ 512MB Ram, 40GB Hard Drive, CDRW+DVD Drive 

♦ 56K Modem, 10/1 OOLan, Card Reader & Wireless Lan 

♦ 14.1" 1024 X 768 Resolution TFT Colour Display 

♦ Serial, Parallel, USB, PCMCIA & SD Card Reader 

♦ Preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP Pro Software 

♦ Ex-lease with 3 months wrty. 6mths wrty add £20+VAT 



Email: sales@computerbargains.co.uk ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS, GOVERNMENT & EDUCATIONAL ORDERS ACCEPTED 



MICROMART > CALL 020 7316 9420 



To advertise in Micromart call 

Jennifer Spencer-Charles on 020 7316 9420 



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opening times: 

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iffi: Free Car Park at Rear 

ENTRANCE OPPOSITE MANOR HOSPITAL VISITOR'S CAR PARK 



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Customization 
of Base Units 

Want to have a different 
Processor? 
Additional Memory? 
Richer detail from your 
Graphics Card? 
Make changes to any of 
our advertised Base Units 
to suit your needs, or have 
us build one for you from 
scratch! 

Ask in-store or call us for more details. 



for all your computing needs 



SLJ & CrossFire 
Gaming 
Base Units 




164 www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



Our volunteers 

do vital work 




Are you an IT expert who enjoys a challenge 
and likes working with people? 

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK's leading sight loss 
charity helping anyone with a sight problem. There are around two million 
people in the UK with a sight problem and every day another 100 people will 
start to lose their sight. 

We need volunteers to visit people with sight loss in their own homes to help 
with installations and troubleshoot problems with hardware or software. 

Contact the Volunteer Support Team to find out more on 0845 603 0575 
email volunteerlng@rnib.org.uk 
website rnib.org.uk/volunteerlng 



RNIB 



supporting blind and 
partially sighted people 







LOTTERY FUNDED 



© RNIB March 2008 
Reg charity no. 226227 



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All you need to know about this month's software 



JUNE 2008 



ON THE CD 



Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 5.5 SE o Magix 
Movie Edit 14 Silver East-Tec Backup 2007 • 
Wise-FTP Likno Web Button Maker SE 



5 FUIL PROGRAMS WORTH £80 

PLUS DOZENS OF USEFUL TOOLS & UTILITIES! 



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ON THE 8GB DVD 

Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 5.5 SE Magix 
Movie Editor 14 Silver Shop Factory e-Trader 
i East-Tec Backup 2007 Wise-FTP Progecad 
Smart Likno Web Button Maker SE Linux 
Mint System Rescue CD 




Let our workshops on the following pages show you how to 
use some of the software on the CD and DVD 



SOFTWARE LISTING 






ON THE CD 

<; Fllll UFP^ION* 


Rijkswidget 
XPSyspad 


Pictomio 1.0.2 Beta 
Recuva 1.11.257 


2 TRIAL VERSIONS 

Norton Ghost 14 


J rULL VlIxjIUIN, 

Magix Movie Edit 14 silver 
East-Tec Backup 2007 
Spyware Doctor with AV 5.5 
starter Fditinn 


Yahoo Widget Engine 

^^^ FRFFWARF 

Ace Backup 2.2 


Rogue Remover 1.24 
Romeo Burner Lite 2.3 
Star Burn 9.8 
Sugar Sync 


Microsoft Expression Web 2.0 

^IINIIX ft OPFN SOURCE 

Cent OS 5.1 Live CD 


jiai ici Luiiiui 1 

Wise-FTP 3 


Burnaware Free Edition 1.2.9 


Super Anti Spyware Free 


Foresight Linux 2.0 


Likno Web Button Maker 


Cobian Backup 9.0.0.121 
Beta 


Edition 4.0.1154 
System Protect 1.0 


Free BSD 7.0 
Linux Mint 4.0 


11 TRIAL VERSIONS 


Create Install Free 4.14 


Truecrypt 5.1 


Slax 6.0.1 


1 1 1 l\ir^L VLI\^lwll^ 

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 
beta 


Cursor FX 2 

Fusing Free Registry Cleaner 


Tweak Vista 1.1 
Unlocker 1.8.6 


System Rescue CD 1.0.0 


AVG Anti-Virus 8 
Blaze Media Pro 8 
East-Tec Backup 2008 
LP Ripper 9.02 

Microsoft Expression Media 2 
Beta 

Notezilla 7.0.83 
Spyware Doctor with 
Antivirus S S 


1.8 


Virtual Box 1.5.6 


120 RESOURCES 


Filezilla v3 for Windows 
3.0.7.1 


Virtual Dub 1.7.8 
Virtua Win 4.0 Beta 3 


Audio, Video & Photo 
Backup & Restoration 


Flashgot 0.8.3 


Visual Task Tips 3.2 


Browsers, Managers & 


Google Calendar Sync 0.9.3 
Google Preview 3.9 
Handbrake 0.9.2 
HDClone Free Edition 3.5.2 
IE Tab 1.5.2 


XP-Antispy 3.96-8 

ON THE 
8GB DVD 

EVERYTHING ON THE 


Extensions 
Burning & Media 
Business & Office 
Developer & Web 
Development Tools 


flllLIVIIUJ J»J 

Winoptimizer 5 
Wise-FTP 5 


Internet Explorer 8 Preview 


CD PLUS... 


General Utilities 


for Windows Vista 


1 FULL VERSION 


Internet & Networking Tools 




McAfee Site Advisor IE 2.6 


Shop Factory 7 e-Trader 


Optimisation & Diagnostics 


6 FROM THE MAGAZINE 

ADS Spy 
DVD Slideshow 
MySQL 


Mini Map Sidebar Extension 
0.1.4.13 

Netscape 9.0.0.6 
Notepad++ 4.8.2 


2 FREEWARE 

Progecad 2008 Smart 
VMware Player 2.0.3 


Portable Applications 
Security 



HELP LINES 

WEB: 

www.pcw.co.uk/disc-support 

EMAIL: 

help@pcwsupport.co.uk 

PHONE: 01702 668 198 
(9.30dm to 5pm Mon, Tues, 
Thurs & Fri; open until 8pm 
on Wed & 10am to 2pm Sat) 

Note that we cannot give support 
for programs on the disc 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



167 



COVER DISC 




INFORMATION 

System requirement Windows 2000 SP4/XP 

SP2/Vista (32-bit x86 versions only), 55MB disk 

space 

Contact www.pctools.com 

Registration Not required 



PC Tools Spyware Doctor 5.5 SE 

All-round malware protection that never expires 



Spyware Doctor has been around for years, 
keeping PCs safe from browser hijackers, 
adware and keyloggers. But now PC Tools 
has taken the program further with the Antivirus 
Starter Edition by adding a powerful anti-virus 
engine, ensuring it can handle any threats you 
might find online. 

An on-demand scanning system can examine 
your PC. By default this will run an Intelli-scan, 
which allows the program to examine running 
applications, startup files and other locations 
where infections are often found. It takes only 
around five minutes to complete on our test PC. 

It's also possible to run the more thorough 
Full Scan, though, or you might choose the 
Custom Scan to search specific locations. These 
can take longer, but there's always the 



Scheduler, which can be set up to run scans 
when you're not around. 

You also get real-time protection against 
malware through a feature called Onguard. 
There's a File Guard, for instance, that monitors 
your PC constantly and prevents any malicious 
files being accessed. This includes attempts to 
open unsafe attachments in Outlook and other 
email clients. The program also includes 
Immunizer Guard, a module that blocks known 
dangerous ActiveX-based threats. 

Best of all, though, is the lack of an expiry 
date. PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus 
Starter Edition isn't going to die after three 
months. It's entirely free for PC Tools' Smart 
definition updates too, so you can go on using 
it for as long as you need. 



Configure Spyware Doctor to deliver the best possible protection 



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^ Install Spyware Doctor and the program will 

immediately start protecting your PC, no further 
effort required. But you'll get better results if you 
customise the program to suit your needs. Click 
Settings > General and check Run Scan on Windows 
Startup, say, and your PC will be quickly checked 
every time Windows loads, which is handy if you 
want to be sure this happens frequently 



^ click Settings > Scan Settings and you'll see 

rootkit detection is turned off by default: it's a 
lengthy process and can significantly increase scan 
times. If you've a fast hard drive, though, or just 
value security above speed, then check the 'Scan for 
hidden rootkit files' option and see how you get on. 
You can always turn it off again if the program 
becomes too slow. 



^Of course if the scanning process really is 

getting in your way, it may be better to run it 
when you're not around. Click Settings > Scheduled 
Tasks and you'll find one scan has been scheduled 
by default, but this may not suit your needs. Click 
the task and select Edit to change its properties, or 
click Add and use the Scheduler Wizard to add a new 
scanning task of your own. 



UPGRADE OFFER FULL SPYWARE DOaOR WITH ANTIVIRUS 



NEW FEATURES 

Block browser hijackers 
Protect your Windows Hosts file 
Remove tracking cookies 
Block malicious hidden processes 
Protect your network settings 
Monitor Windows Startup programs 



Move to the regular retail edition of PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus and you'll 
gain an extensive range of real-time protection features. Browser Guard prevents 
malware from changing your favourites, toolbars, add-ons and more. Network Guard 
Stops threats from hijacking your network connection, Process Guard blocks malicious 
hidden processes such as rootkits, and Cookie Guard deletes tracking cookies 
automatically. Subscription prices start at £39.95 but, as a Starter Edition user, you can 
upgrade and save 30 per cent on the standard retail price. This will protect up to three 
PCs for a year. To upgrade go to Upgrade > Upgrade Now within the program menu. 



168 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



COVER DISC 




INFORMATION 

System requirements 512MB Ram, Windows 
2000/XP/Vista, 1GB hard disk space, DirectX 
9.0c graphics card with 256MB Ram 
Contact www.magix.net 
Registration Not required 
Need to know Automatic scene detection, 
MPEG import trim edits and some other 
functions of the Plus edition are not available 
in the Silver edition, and videos may only be 
exported as WMV files with a maximum 
resolution of 640x480pixels 



Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 Silver 

Transform tired home videos into stylish and professional movies 



The secret to making great home movies 
isn't in the amount of cash you spend on 
the video camera or even the in-depth 
knowledge of film you've gained from watching 
all those Uwe Boll movies. The real key to 
producing top-quality results is to use the best 
possible editor, and that's why you need Magix 
Movie Edit Pro 14 Silver. 

At its simplest you could just use the 
program to join a few film clips together. Find 
them on your hard drive, drag and drop the clips 
onto your hard drive, then export them as a 
Windows Media Video (WMV) file. It only takes 
a moment. 

Of course the real fun starts when you begin 
to explore the more advanced options, and there 
are some surprisingly powerful features 



available. Click the Movement tab, then choose 
the Rotation function, for instance, and you'll be 
able to tweak the current clip's size and position, 
as well as rotate it to whatever angle you 
choose. There's a 3D morph option to spin and 
mirror the picture, while a Level Horizon feature 
compensates for those times when the camera 
wasn't quite as straight as it should have been. 
And if your original camera work seems too 
static, it's easy to compensate with a range of 
useful video effects. You can zoom in or out, 
pan left or right, or choose more complex effects 
simply by double-clicking on the option of your 
choice from the Effects Gallery. Play around to 
see what's on offer, then add professional fades, 
your own titles, and when you're ready, export 
the results and share them with others. 



Build stylish, professional movies at speed, no experience required 



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1 Launch the program, choose to Create a New 
Movie, and select the Edit button at the top of 
the screen. Click My Media and browse to the folder 
containing the clip or clips you want in the movie 
(MPEG isn't supported in this version). Choose the 
files and then drag them onto the video timeline. 
You can rearrange their order, if necessary. 



Click Play to get a preview for how your movie 
looks so far. If you have any problems, click the 
Effects tab for solutions. Choose the Optimize tab for 
tools to fix colour balance, exposure or softness 
issues. Click Autocolor or Auto exposure, then click 
the Auto button to adjust the image, then use the 
sliders to make any final picture tweaks. 



Explore the tabs for ways to add fades, titles, 
video effects and more to your video, again 
using the preview window to check it's going well. 
When your movie is done, click File > Export Movie > 
Windows Media Export to save it as a WMV file, and 
don't miss the advanced options: they provide 
complete control over the whole encoding process. 



UGRADE OFFER MAGIX MOVIE EDIT PR0 1 4 PLUS 



NEW FEATURES 

Watch and record TV 
Full HD video support 
Automatic soundtrack creation 
Record streaming videos 
Upload straight to Youtube 
Write to MPEG, DVD, Blu-ray 



Move to Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 Plus and you'll be able to import HD videos, create 
Dolby Digital surround sounds, and apply special effects such as 3D scrolling text and 
professional picture-in-picture animations. The results may then be exported as video 
files, burned to DVD, mini DVD or Blu-ray discs, even uploaded directly to Youtube. 

But the real fun comes with all the extras: TV recording and playback (if you have a 
tuner), the ability to capture streaming video, a powerful 3D-animation tool, and more. 

It's all yours for only £59.99 plus £2.99 shipping, and you can click Help > Upgrade to 
Full Version > Upgrade for the full details. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



169 



COVER DISC 




INFORMATION 

System requirements Windows 98/ME/2000/ 
XP/Vista, 8MB disk space 
Contact www.east-tec.com 
Registration Point a browser at 
www.east-tec.com/vnufree for instructions on 
obtaining your licence key 



East-Tec Backup 2007 

Keep your valuable data safe from harm with this backup tool 



Running backups will always be a tedious 
process. But the pain can be kept to a 
minimum with the right backup software, 
and there are few better choices than East-Tec 
Backup 2007. 

The program provides a standard tree-type 
view to specify the folders you'd like to back up. 
You could also ask it to search for and save 
particular file types (videos, music or productivity 
files), no matter where they are on your hard 
drive. It can save Registry settings or your emails 
in a couple of clicks. And the User Settings 
dialogue allows you to preserve the settings for 
common applications (audio players, instant 
messengers, browsers) by checking a few boxes. 

The flexibility continues when you get to 
decide your backup destination. You're able to 



save files to a local folder, network drive, 
removable disc, CD/DVD, even a remote FTP 
connection. And the program can work with 
incremental, differential and stacked backups 
(the latter creates multiple copies of changed 
files with version numbers), so you're sure to 
find an option that works for you. 

There's not just the ability to compress your 
files: you can also create self-extracting archives, 
or split the archives into files of a defined size. 
Encryption comes in both ZIP password and AES 
forms. The scheduler has just about as many 
configuration options as you'll have ever seen. 
And once the backup is complete, the program 
can do anything from play sounds, to send 
emails or run the program of your choice. It 
doesn't get much more versatile than this. 



Create a useful backup job that runs in less than 5 minutes 



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1 Backups don't have to take forever. Even a quick 
backup across the network can still be useful. 
Launch East-Tec Backup 2007, click Create a new 
Backup Task, select the Source tab and click Email. 
Check the box next to any email client that you use 
and the program will save your emails, rules, 
signatures, settings and more. Click OK. 



Click the Destination tab to choose where your 
data will be saved. This could just be a local 
folder, but if the hard drive fails you'll lose the 
backup, too. You're better off choosing a network 
folder, say. Or, if you've access to an FTP server, 
select 'Remote location': that way your data will 
survive even major disasters like flood or fires. 



Click the Options tab and select Use Zip 
Compression. Then click Events > Finish and 
you're done. Click Yes to run the Backup Task, the 
backup job will be run as you've defined, then 
you'll see the results in the My Tasks window. Here 
you may run the job again, edit it or create a new 
one, and don't miss the Options dialogue for some 
handy configuration settings. 



UPGRADE OFFER MORE POWER IN EAST-TEC BACKUP 2008 



NEW FEATURES 

Create compressed archives 

Incremental/different support for 

CD/DVD 

Span archives over multiple hard drives 

Enhanced reporting capabilities 

Free updates for two years 



The latest version of East-Tec Backup improves the program with ZIP64 support, letting 
you create compressed archives greater than 4GB. There's support for incremental and 
differential backups to CD and DVD, archives can be spanned across multiple hard drives, 
and you'll get enhanced reporting tools. It's a supremely professional tool, yet comes at 
the decidedly low-end price of only £7.50. Or you can buy licences to cover two PCs for 
a mere £15. It's a real backup bargain, and you can upgrade directly from the author's 
web site at www.east-tec.com/vnuoffer. 



170 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



COVER DISC 



Wise-FTP 3 



FULL 
VERSION 



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FTP clients don't exactly make headlines any 
more, but they're still essential applications for 
just about everyone who needs to manage a 
website, and Wise-FTP is one of the best. 

The program makes it easy to enter all the 
details of your FTP connection: host name, login 
details, connection type, proxy settings and 
more. You can enter the details for as many sites 
as you need via the built-in Site Manager, then 
organise them with your own folder structure. 

Once connected, Wise-FTP has one pane for 
showing your hard drive, and another for the 
remote FTP server. File transfer is easy, just drag 
and drop the files from one pane to the other. 



INFORMATION 

System requirements Windows 
ME/2000/XP/Vista, 4MB disk space 
Contaci www.wise-ftp.com 
Registratior Not required 



It's easy to synchronise remote and local 
folders with Wise-FTP 



The program has lots of features to speed up 
your FTP operations. If you want to make a 
quick edit to a PHP file, you might normally 
download it to your hard drive, open the 
document, save it your hard drive and upload 
the file again. But here you can select a file, 
choose to open it with the internal Wise-FTP 
editor, and make changes right away. 

You can also synchronise local and remote 
folders, where Wise-FTP will automatically 
ensure the files on your server match those on 
your hard drive. Or, if you're working with a lot 
of files, set up the Scheduler and it'll upload 
them all while you're not around. 



UPGRADE OFFER 
UPGRADE TO 
WISE-FTP 5 



The latest incarnation of Wise-FTP 
delivers powerful features such as 
integrated compression, file previews, 
scheduled FTP transfers, FTP site 
backup and restore, direct FTP server 
to FTP server transfers, support for 
files larger than 2GB, FTPS support, 
improved HTML editing, and a whole 
lot more. And yet the upgrade from 
version 3 will still only cost £10, 
which sounds like an extremely good 
deal to us. Browse the full feature list 
and then place your order at 
www.wise-ftp.com/order.htm. 



Llkno Web Button Maker SE 



FULL 
VERSION 



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Trying to get the right buttons for your website 
can be frustrating. Especially after you've spent 
hours trying to create them manually with a 
graphics editor, or browsing through a host of 
online libraries, none of which deliver quite what 
you need. Fortunately, Likno Web Button Maker 
makes the whole button design process as 
simple as it's likely to get. 

Launch the program and you'll immediately 
be presented with an oval button. It has a 
realistic wood-like texture, while a light reflects 
off the left-hand side, and white text hovers 
above. If you like this, double-click the button, 
enter your own text, and export the results in 
JPEG, GIF or PNG formats. 



INFORMATION 

System requirements Windows 98/ME/2000/ 

XP, 20MB disk space 

Contact www.likno.com 

Registration Launch Likno Web Button Maker and 

click 'Activate for free' 



Select the button style you need from an entire 
library of attractive options 

If you'd like to see what else the program 
has on offer browse the Presets window for a 
range of colour schemes. Double-click any that 
appeals, then click the tabs below for more 
options. You're able to change the button shape, 
try a different material, tweak the lighting and 
customise the reflection. There's also control 
over the button text, including 3D rotations. 

You can customise your creation further by 
switching to a three-state button: this displays a 
normal, mouse-over and mouse-click image, 
each of which may be tweaked to suit your 
needs. And if you add links to a button the 
Export option will display a sample HTML page, 
explaining how they can be used on the web. 



UPGRADE OFFER 
SAVE 200/0 ON 
BUnON MAKER 
STANDARD 



Move to the standard version of Likno 
Web Button Maker and you'll gain a 
lot, including 26 eye-catching button 
shapes, 35 stylish, attractive textures, 
and a pack of 100 ready-to-use 
buttons. Each button can have a 
shadow, and allows multi-line text for 
extra flexibility. It's a big step 
forward, yet the upgrade still only 
costs around £14, a 20 per cent 
discount off the usual price. Click 
Help > Upgrade Likno Web Button 
Maker to find out more. 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



171 



COVER DISC 




ON OUR 

COVER 

DVD 



INFORMATION 

System requirements Windows 
98/2000/XP/Vista, 100MB disk space 
Contact www.makemeashop.com 
Registration Register online at 
www.makemeashop.com/covermounts/vnu/ 
Neeci lu Kiiuw This version of Shop Factory limits 
your store to a total of 15 products and 25 pages 



Shop Factory V7 eTrader 

Launch a professional online shop with this feature-packed tool 



Internet shops are the fastest growing area of 
retail right now, and there's never been a 
better time to dip your toes in the waters of 
ecommerce. This can seem an intimidating 
prospect, especially if you know nothing about 
web design, scripting, shopping carts, or any of 
the other essential elements of online stores. But 
that doesn't have to be a problem. Shop Factory 
V7 eTrader will walk you through just about 
every step involved in creating and managing 
your shop. 

The program comes with a range of 
attractive site templates that ensure your site will 
look every bit as professional as the commercial 
competition. The template also includes default 
sections where you can enter your privacy 
policy, terms of trade, contact details and more - 



handy if you're a beginner and might otherwise 
not realise that you need a privacy policy at all. 

You'll want to enter product details at some 
point, and that's easy too. One dialogue lets you 
enter a variety of short or detailed descriptions, 
as well as entering thumbnail and full-sized 
images; everything you need to attract the 
attention of potential customers. 

There are lots of business issues to consider, 
too: shipping, taxes, currencies, payment 
methods and more, but they're all covered in the 
Help file and a selection of wizards. 

A Preview button lets you view the site at 
any time, in your default browser. If everything's 
right, you can publish the page to your own site, 
or pay to use the author's own hosting service, 
and your shop could be online within minutes. 



Build your first web store in less than a day 



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1 Launch Shop Factory, click 'Create a new 
Website' and give your project a name. Then 
click Next to see your choice of themes, the layout 
and colour scheme that you'd like your shop to use. 
Don't worry if none of these are quite right, you can 
customise everything later, just choose the theme 
that best suits your needs and click OK to generate 
your site. 



The shop Factory authors understand that 
building a web store can seem intimidating, so 
they've built plenty of help and advice into the 
program. Click 'Start here' and you'll find helpful 
answers to common questions, as well as a step-by- 
step guide to creating your store. The latter is 
available in an easy to access pop-up window, too 
(click Help > Popup Help). 



But if you avoid Help files and prefer to jump 
right in, start clicking on the Index 1 pages 
(About, Contact etc) and filling in the details for 
your store. Next select Page 1, enter a general 
introduction for your products, and click 'Add 
product' to begin adding your products. Use the 
Preview option frequently and you'll have a good 
feel for how the site will look online. 



UPGRADE OFFER SWITCH TO SHOP FAQORY PRO 



NEW FEATURES 

Add unlimited products 

More professionally designed themes 

Discount and gift vouchers 

Supports unlimited pages 

PPH search with Ajax powered results 

Real-time stock control 



Shop Factory V7 eTrader limits you to stores containing a maximum of 15 products and 
25 pages. Upgrade to Shop Factory Pro and you'll remove this limitation, though, as well 
as gaining new shop themes and a range of other useful features, all for around £305. 
Or if you're really serious about ecommerce, try the £610 Gold version, which adds more 
features for promotions, stock control, sales analysis and more. Visit the Shop Factory 
site (www.makemeashop.com) for in-depth details on everything the two packages 
have to offer. 



172 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



PRIZE GIVEAWAY 




Wl N ^ Archos products worth £1,140! 




D& 



YOU can enjoy all your multimedia 
content in your living room or on the 
move with the revolutionary Archos 
TV+ and the Archos 605 Wifi Personal Media 
Player. This month, three lucky winners will win 
the 30GB Archos 605 and the 80GB TV+, which 
synchronise seamlessly to deliver media 
content at home or on the go. 

The Archos 605 Wifi is a top-of-the-range 
portable video player that allows you to carry 
around your favourite music, movies, photos 
and TV shows as well as giving you mobile 
access to the internet. The sleek MP4 player has 
a beautiful 4. Sin touchscreen providing high- 
resolution screen quality. The 30GB model can 
hold as many as 40 movies, 20,000 songs or 
almost 400,000 photos, so there will be enough 
on your Archos to entertain you for hours. 

The Archos TV+ home Wifi entertainment 
centre bridges the gap between the PC and 
television. You can stream content from the PC, 
your portable Archos media player, or the 
internet to the television - all through a Wifi or 
Ethernet home network. You can also download 
movies from the Archos Content Portal, watch 
online videos and access other entertainment. 

Connect your 605 to the USB port of your 
TV+ and enjoy all the content stored on it 
through your television. 

The Archos TV+ makes recording content 
easy with the electronic programming guide that 
schedules recording up to a week in advance. 
Once set up, Archos TV+ will communicate with 
your set-top-box to record a programme. This 




will then be stored on your Archos TV+ memory, 
which comes in 80GB and 250GB sizes. Roughly 
450 hours of video can be stored on the 250GB 
device, but it can also be used to hold music, 
movies and photos, all of which can be accessed 
through your TV. For more information on 
Archos, head to www.archos.com. 

For your chance to win one of these great 
prizes, answer the question below and enter 
online at www.pcw.co.uk/competitions. The 
competition opens on 17 April 2008 and closes 
on 16 May 2008. 

How many movies can the 30GB Archos 605 Wifi 

PMP hold? 

a) 5 

b)10 

c)40 



This competition is open to readers of PCW, except for 
employees (and their families) of Incisive Media, and 
Archos. PCW is the sole judge of the competition and the 
Editor's choice is final. Offer applies to residents of the 
UK and the Irish Republic only. Entrants must be over 
the age of 18 and only one entry per household will be 
accepted. Winners will be selected at random from all 
correct entries received. No cash alternative is available in 
lieu of prizes. Incisive Media will use all reasonable 
endeavours to notify the winner(s) within 14 days of the 
close of the competition. Incisive Media reserves the right 
to substitute the prize for one of greater or equal value if 
circumstances make this unavoidable. Prizes will be 
dispatched by the competition sponsor (s) and the 
winner(s) name(s) and address(es) will be provided to 
the competition sponsor(s) for this purpose. No purchase 
of the magazine is necessary to enter the competition. 
Incisive Media will use all reasonable efforts to ensure 
that the prizes are as described on this page. However, 
Incisive Media cannot accept any liability in respect of 
any prize, and any queries regarding a prize should be 
taken up directly with the sponsor of that prize. 



The winner of the March competition is John Bowler, who wins an Alienware gaming PC. 



ENTER ONLINE AT www.pcw.co.uk/competitions 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



173 



CONTACT US 



On the web 



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PCW is not just a great monthly magazine, 
we also have a website carrying daily news, 
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HERE a RECEIVE 



Cgiguter 






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The Test Bed 

Our labs blog, the Test Bed, gives you regular updates on 

the latest gossip, technology trends and products. 

-> http://labs.pcw.co.uk -^ http://www.reportlabs.com/testbed 

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Get involved with the PCW community of readers, get help 
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EDITORIAL 

Tel 020 7316 9000 Fax 020 7316 9313 www.pcw.co.uk 

Editor Kelvyn Taylor 

Deputy Editor Will Stapley 

Associate Editor (News) Clive Akass 

Staff Writer Emil Larsen 

Labs Project Manager Simon Crisp 

Stores Supervisor Alan Rider 

Group Support Assistant Sofie Jakobsson 

Contributing Editor Nigel Whitfield 

Editorial contributors Tim Anderson, Karl Foster, Barry Fox, Cliff 

Joseph, Guy Kewney, Gordon Laing, Paul Lester, Niall Magennis, 

Ken McMahon, Paul Monckton, Tim Nott, Jonathan Parkyn, Terry 

Relph-Knight, Barry Shilliday, Tim Smith, Alan Stevens, 

Stephen Wells, Mark Whitehorn, Ian Williams 

ART & PRODUCTION 

Art Editor Jonathan Ross 

Group Production Editor Debbie Oliver 

Production Editor Lindsay Parish-Jones 

Sub-Editors Jody Elphick, Matt Andrews, Harry Burrows 

Art ft Production contributors 

Susie Norris, Ian Naylor 

Photography Bruce Mackie 

PUBLISHING 

Publishing Director Duncan Tickell 
Managing Director Professional Services Graham Harman 
Deputy Managing Director Kumaran Ramanathan 
Founder Angelo Zgorelec 



MARKETING & CIRCULATION 

Marketing Manager Louise Newland 
Circulation Manager Emma Smyth 
Marketing Executive Rahila Ehsan 
New Media Manager (CD/DVD) Chris Wiles 

ADVERTISING 

Deputy Sales Manager Mark Rankine 020 7316 9305 

Major Client Managers Tony Rweyemamu 020 7316 9114, 

Graeme Roche 020 7316 9811 

Client Managers Maria Theocharides-Andreou 020 7316 9223; 

Stella Sloan 020 7316 9295 

Classified Sales Jennifer Spencer-Charles 020 7316 9420 

Sales Consultant Stephanie Quist 020 7316 9723 

European/Asian/Middle East Representation 

Global Media Europe Ltd, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London, 
W1A 2HG. Tel 020 7316 9264 www.globalreps.com 

Taiwan Sales Representatives Transactionmedia Ltd, 

11th Floor No 1 Sec. 2 Dunhua S. Rd. Taipei 106 ROC Taiwan 

00 886 2 8772 5145. Contacts: Nitin Joshi, Lilly Mao 

CENTRAL PRODUCTION 

Senior Production Manager Cathy Mahoney 
Digital Production Controller Rebecca Yegliss 
Production Controller Emma Barry 

Maps courtesy Ordnance Survey mapping © Crown copyright. 
AM58/08 



To email any PCW staff member, use the following: 
forename.surname@incisivemedia.com, substituting the 
person's name as it appears on this page 



Printed and bound by St Ives (Roche) Ltd 

Distributed by Marketforce (UK) Ltd, The Blue Fin Building, 110 

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CUSTOMER SERVICES 

Enquiries or complaints regarding any advertiser in this 
magazine should be emailed to 

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The opinions expressed and results published in connection 
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computing systems and/or other related items are confined to, 
and are representative of, only those goods as supplied and 
should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase. 

PCW cannot give technical help/support services, either 
written or verbal. 

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Readers are reminded that the opinions expressed, and the results 
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and are representative of, only those goods as supplied and should not 
be construed as a recommendation to purchase. Whilst every precaution 
is taken to ensure that reliability and good business practices prevail, 
the Publisher cannot be held responsible for the overall trading activities 
of any supplier referred to, or advertising within, this publication. 



10 tips for buying safely 



9 
10 



Get written quotes from shops specifying components used, or print off and keep spec sheets from websites. 

Use a credit card if possible for purchases of £100 or more; you could get compensation from the card company 

if a supplier goes out of business. 

Keep good records, storing receipts, correspondence in one place. 

In England and Wales, the onus is on retailers to prove that faults found within six months on purchases 

are not inherent. 

Goods ordered online, by phone or post can be returned under the Distance Selling Regulations without 

explanation within a reasonable time - this is widely accepted as being seven days. 

Open and inspect all goods as soon as possible after delivery and make sure they work. 

Companies are not obliged to repair or replace goods damaged by accident or misuse, unless it is caused in 

transit by a delivery service. 

Companies cannot charge for a service that isn't being delivered, but never stop a direct debit while 

under contract. 

Consumers should not suffer financial loss for repairs that are not their fault, so claim back carriage charges. 

If a dispute arises, take advice from Consumer Direct at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk. 



17^ 



www.pcw.co.uk jne 2008 



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^^Personal. 

Computer 

World 



NEXT MONTH 



ON SALE 15 MAY 2008 



£1,299 Mega PCs 



Notebooks might be the rising stars, but you 
still can't beat a good old desktop PC for the 
ultimate performance and upgradeability. We 
challenge the major manufacturers to come 
up with powerhouse PCs for less than £1,300. 

Is it TV, or is it 
the internet? 

There's no shortage of video content 
available online - BBC iPlayer, Youtube and 
40D are all popular examples - but the 
technology is surrounded by confusion. We 
take a look behind the scenes and explain 
exactly what the fuss is all about. 

Build a budget PC 

If you thought that building your own PC 
was expensive, think again. With low-cost 
components available online, it's possible to 
build a new PC base unit from scratch for 
almost pocket-money prices. Our complete 
guide shows you what to look for and how 
to save a stack of money along the way. 

All about hard drives 

You entrust them to look after your 
documents, photos and other important 
files, but just how do hard drives work 
and what's inside them? We take a closer 
look at this often overlooked technology 
and tell you everything you need to know 
but were afraid to ask. 




\l There's lots more in July's PCW 
^ DON'T MISS IT... 



June 2008 www.pcw.co.uk 



175 



FLASHBACK 



JUNE 2003 



From the archives: Take a look at the important 
events in technology five, 15 and 25 years ago. 



Digital cameras are ten a penny - 
today, but in 2003 the revolution 
was just starting, with digital 
camera sales accounting for 51 
per cent of all cameras sold. 

We tested 10 digital cameras, 
ranging in price from £129.99 to 
£300, with drastically varying 
image quality. The slim Casio 
Exilim EX-S2 produced 
compression artefacts and on its 
closest possible macro setting 
still had to be at least 1m away 
from the subject matter. The 
Ricoh Caplio G3, on the other 
hand, could focus on objects 
just 1cm away. Canon's Power 
Shot A70 took our top honours 
for decent image quality, 
versatile menus and plenty of 
auto settings. 



.#^-' PERSONAL ^'^'B 

ODMPUl^r 

WWORLD 

Picture Power 

imui 10 itiqitat cameras for under C300 

Budijet on 

yideo-edttjiiq: 

Your guide to 
mnie making 



Late special 



IRevieweii 



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* Hands fM advice- >^ Upqradf v<*ur n^leboDk 

* How lit share a printer » Edit the Refiistrv 



w iwiriimnwgi 



> Ifari #fn mnd-up 



The first working fuel cells 
for laptops were launched at 
Cebit 2003. These batteries used 
125ml cartridges of methanol to 
deliver 120 watt-hours of 
energy, enough for a frugal 
notebook to run for 10 hours, 
and when you needed to 
recharge, you simply replace the 
methanol cartridge. The 
downside was they weighed 
1.1kg and added significant bulk 
to any notebook. 

Toshiba and Smart Fuel Cell 
(SFC) each had their own 
designs and SFC said size was 
being reduced by 20 per cent a 
year. Fuel cells aren't quite ready 
for consumer electronics yet but 
SFC is selling them for 
caravanning, yachting and 
military purposes today. 



JUNE 1983 




How much would you pay for a word processor? In 
1983 £1 ,000 was considered a fair bargain. For that 
you could expect to get your hands on a Vic-20 
computer, a daisy-wheel typewriter with the ability to 
mimic a dedicated printer, an 80-column display 
(resolution was irrelevant back then) and a copy of 
Quick Brown Fox, the cutely named rival to Wordstar 
and Wordpro. It's a wonder anyone could ever afford 
to get into computing at those prices. 

Fortunately, though, they did, 
or they'd not have had a use for 
the £1 ,136 ESW 3000 printer from 
Olympia which, its inventors 
proudly proclaimed, moved at an 
"eye-blurring" one line every two 
seconds. Modern laser printers can 
spit out a whole page in that time. 
Neither would they have had a 
reason to buy PCW's first sister 
publication. Personal Computer 
Games, which launched in 1983 
and continued for a couple of 
years. Promising to help its readers 
"start winning, winning, winning", 
it cost a fairly steep £1 when PCW 
was a mere 85p. 



JUNE 1993 




Leaping straight to the middle of the June 1993 issue 
we had a group test covering hard drive controller 
cards using either ISA or EISA interfaces. Prices ranged 
considerably from £127 to £1,200 and the four 
cheapest cards in the group were all made by Promise 
- the only brand we still recognise today. 

We also ran an extensive preview of the OS/2 v2.1 
update of the unsuccessful OS/2 v2.0, which didn't 
really change OS/2's eventual fate. We dedicated a 
four-page review to Adobe 
Photoshop v2.5 and loved it. It is 
noteworthy that the price was 
£725, so, by any metric, Photoshop 
is significantly cheaper today. 

The Sharp IQ-9000 personal 
organiser was far cheaper at £349, 
and it had a Qwerty keyboard, a 
touch-sensitive screen plus infra-red 
to link to a printer. It only had 
256KB of memory and a 256KB 
expansion card cost £129.99. 

Finally, we looked at Microsoft 
Works 3.0, supplied on five floppy 
disks, which we welcomed as well 
as a valid alternative to more the 
bloated office suites. 



176 



www.pcw.co.uk June 2008 



COVER DISC 



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ON THE CD 

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* Requires online or phone registration 



^recycle 

Please recycle this disc wallet 
when you have finished with it 



THE UK'S BIGGEST & BEST SOFTWARE COLLECTION! 



USING THE COVER DISC 



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use Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 5.5 or 
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vided links to the featured programs, so you can 
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STARTING THE DISC 

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